FWLD - Working for Non-Discrimination and Equality

Human Rights of Women



– Advocate Binu Lama, FWLD

It’s been 25 years since the adaptation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA) in 1995, which reflects a new international commitment to the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere. In March 2020, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is going to undertake a review of progress made by the states in the implementation of the BPFA in 64th Session. The Beijing Review provides an important opportunity for women to examine their respective governments’ efforts and those of the other non- state actors in implementing the BPFA. It is also an opportunity for holding leaders and governments accountable for their commitments made for women’s empowerment, gender equality and the promotion of women’s human rights under the BPFA.


The National Network for Beijing Review Nepal (NNBN) which constitutes of over 70 leading NGOs working to protect and promote Women’s Human Rights in Nepal has submitted the NGOs (parallel) report of Nepal on the Beijing +25 review and Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) has been coordinating all the process as a Secretariat of the Network. The report consists the present status, progress achieved, persistent and emerging challenges along with conclusion and recommendation in 12 Beijing critical areas of concern.


In the issue of the Human rights of Women, the NGOs report submitted states that despite of abundant guarantees of non-discrimination based on origin, religion, race, caste, tribe, sex, economic condition, language, religion, ideology or on similar other grounds in the Constitution of Nepal, Nepalese women still face many fold challenges due to the deep rooted patriarchal mindset. The patriarchal mindset often takes precedence over these laws and policies and lack of practical implementation of the Constitutional guarantees. Furthermore, Gender Equality has only been considered equality among male and female and not for the LBTI group and the group is hardly considered while considering gender equality.


In addition, non-recognition of the independent identity of women in conferring the citizenship to the spouse and children is a direct violation of the Article 9 of the CEDAW that obliges the state to grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality and equal rights with respect to the nationality of their children. Similarly, there is no provision for conferral of Nepali citizenship by Nepali woman to foreign spouse through marriage while the Nepalese men can convey their nationality to foreign spouses and their children.


The report also highlights some noticeable progress achieved by Nepal which includes promulgation of the new Constitution in 2015 that has been the milestone for enabling environment for gender equality in the country as it ensures equal lineage right to every woman without gender based discrimination and the right to obtain special opportunity in education, health, employment and social security, on the basis of positive discrimination. The another mentionable achievement of Nepal since Beijing + 20 review that the report highlights is the Act to Amend Some Acts for Maintaining Gender Equality and Ending Gender-Based Violence 2015 which amended few discriminatory provisions.


The report however discusses persistent challenges like the absence of definition of discrimination against women in existing laws and legislations of the country due to which it has failed to address the indirect forms of discrimination and to address intersectional and multiple forms of discriminations of women. The report further states that though the laws have ensured that instances of de jure discriminations have been eliminated in most of the areas still the same cannot be said about elimination of de facto discrimination. Likewise, the report highlights that the deep rooted patriarchal mindset of people including those who are in the position of implementation of laws is one of the major causes for insufficient of implementation of laws.


The Country Civil Code, 2018 prevents women from claiming their property rights upon divorce if they do not provide food for their spouses, terminate common living arrangements with their spouses, inflict physical or mental harm on their spouses or plan to do so, or in cases in which the woman has had extra conjugal relations whereas same provision is inapplicable to the husband. The report also highlights that the government has failed to enact law to implement the special opportunity provisions under fundamental rights of women as per the Article 47 of the Constitution. It also limits the special provision by adding the condition of ‘lagging behind socially and culturally” which indicates that the positive discrimination may not extend to all women but only those who are proven to fulfill the condition.


Despite the Judiciary has been a crucial component in protecting and promoting gender equality in Nepal. The Supreme Court of Nepal has repealed various discriminatory laws through its decisions. The Court has made the notable decisions in regard to discrimination against women whether it is on property rights of women or equal right to citizenship from the mother’s identity however, on implementation or delay in implementation of the judiciary orders to ensure equal status of women still stand as a major challenge in ensuring women’s human rights. The issue has also been raised in the report.


The report concludes by stating that though significant improvement in legal guarantees for protection of women’s rights and gender equality is being witnessed in the country, Nepalese women still face multiple discriminations due to the continuous dominance of the patriarchal value system. Insufficient implementation of laws in reality remains a major challenge in Nepal with regard to fulfilling the international obligations under various human rights instrument. Nonetheless, it can be said that the Government of Nepal has succeeded to eliminate de jure discriminations against women in most of the areas but de facto discrimination is still remained. Therefore, at last, the report provides the following recommendations. i.e. adopt a comprehensive definition of discrimination against women to encompass both de jure and de facto discrimination, acknowledge the diversity of women within the framework of special measures, take immediate steps to amend/repeal discriminatory provisions and ensure effective and full implementation of the decisions and directive orders of the Supreme Court regarding women’s equal status, identity and rights of women.