Globally, gender inequality remains one of the biggest developmental challenges of our time. Despite being the key to sustainable development, not one single country has achieved full gender equality. The problem is worse in developing countries such as Nepal: women often have to fight for basic issues such as health services, education and freedom. Yet, they are often invisible and overlooked. As a tourist, is it possible to help?
Gender inequality in Nepal
Nepal is a deeply patriarchal society and was ranked 110th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Equality Index rankings in 2017. Although Nepal has made some strides forward in recent years — such as instituting quotas which reserve seats in parliament for women — norms that discriminate against women persist at the social level.
Girls are often denied access to adequate education — particularly in rural areas where poorer families struggle to afford education — because of the view that the women should work in the home. Accordingly, it is no surprise that because of these normative and economic barriers, women’s participation in the paid labour force hovers at around 30%.
Because of the social stigma surrounding disability in Nepal, disabled Nepali women are victims of ‘double discrimination.' They are vulnerable but they do not have much support. They are more prone to abuse but these women are often denied services that are provided to disabled males.
Hands on Development: Making a difference
As a tourist, you can help make Nepal a better place for women, all whilst enjoying an exciting and culturally enriching holiday. Hands on Development directly supports gender equality by supporting and facilitating the employment and vocational training of local women — many of whom would otherwise have been denied these opportunities because of their gender and/or disability.
Profits from the cooking classes attended by tour participants directly supports training local women in hospitality skills, allowing them to break into a male-dominated industry. Through their economic empowerment, women become role models within their community, thereby challenging patriarchal norms.
Gender inequality is not inevitable. By travelling responsibly with organisations like Hands on Development you can make a tangible difference by directly empowering marginalised women.