Nari Dibas, or International Women’s Day in Nepal, is observed on March 8 to acknowledge the tremendous work done by the country’s feminist movement. Nepalese women from all walks of life are uplifted, supported, and cheered on on this national public holiday. Celebrations are organized in the capital city of Kathmandu by the National Women’s Commission and the Ministry of Women. The day also highlights the country’s long road ahead in terms of women’s empowerment and gender equality.
History of Nari Dibas
In 1920, a Hindu religious leader founded Nari Samiti, Nepal’s first female organization. Powered by the faith in the religion she preached, she sought to abolish Sati Pratha, a historical Hindu practice in which a widow ends her life by placing herself on top of the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. She was mocked, discarded, and disenfranchised by the members of her community, but she was ultimately successful in banning the practice from her country.
Her name was Yogmaye Neupane, and she cast the first ripples of a century-long feminist uprising in the republic of Nepal. In the years to come, the women’s movement of Nepal has been a collective effort of social and political campaigns aimed at achieving a better, more equal society.
The biggest breakthrough came in 1996 when thousands of people came together to topple Nepal’s 240-year-long monarchy. The women’s participation in the formation of Nepal’s republic was equally rewarded with the adoption of a progressive and inclusive constitution in 2007.
While the 21st-century Nepalese women have the constitutional right to vote, own property, and make decisions about their reproductive health, the nation still has a long way to go. From the rising cases of recurring domestic violence to human trafficking, the women of Nepal face myriad issues as they carve out a future for themselves.
On Nari Dibas, we reflect on the obstacles that women and girls face in society. The United Nations Women’s Organization believes that through increased awareness, political leverage, and coherent policies, we can ditch the patriarchy in the 21st century and build a sustainable system of life for everyone in the world.
Nari Dibas timeline
Women’s rights leader Yogmaya Neupane successfully campaigns to abolish Sati practices in Nepal, causing the first dent in the country’s feudal patriarchal base.
Political leader Dwarika Devi Thakurani becomes the first female elected representative of Nepal.
Nepal amends the women’s right to abortion and the right to own property in the constitution.
Major affirmative actions regarding women’s access to health, education, social security, and employment are adopted in a brand new constitution.
Nari Dibas FAQs
What is the female literacy rate of Nepal?
As per the 2018 census, the female literacy rate of Nepal stands at 59.6%. This is in contrast to the decent male literacy rate of 78.59%. Most girls in Nepal are deterred from studies due to patriarchal structures or geographical/logistical challenges.
What is the most common occupation of women in Nepal?
Women make up to half of the unorganized workforce in Nepal and work mostly in the agriculture, retail, and education sectors. The majority of women perform unpaid labor in the country.
Is Nepal a patriarchal country?
Nepal has been a patriarchal and patrifocal country since its foundation. Much of it is due to the heavy influence of Hinduism practiced by its neighboring country India.
How to Observe Nari Dibas
Donate to women’s charities
Several local and national charities dedicated to women’s safety and upliftment are highlighted on Nari Dibas. These organizations have offered practical support in critical hours and saved thousands of lives. On March 8, show these vital groups your appreciation.
Watch a movie with a strong female lead
In honor of this public holiday, pamper yourself with a night of Katniss or Captain Marvel. We can’t be what we can’t see — you never know what the stories of female-led rebellions and their subsequent victories may end up teaching you.
Take action and inspire
Great female leaders throughout history have risked their lives to challenge patriarchy. The fight for equal rights demands everyone’s participation — and it starts at home. As Maya Angelou said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
5 Heartbreaking Facts About Nepal’s Gender Inequality
The index drip
Nepal ranks 115th out of 162 on the Gender Equality Index.
The child bride capital
Nepal has one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world, with 40% of girls getting married before they turn 18.
The never-ending trauma
As per a study, 51.9% of Nepalese women have experienced either physical or mental violence in their life, with 46.2% being a victim of sexual assault.
The bondage of marriage
In Nepal, 81% of married women experience domestic violence, perpetrated by either their husbands or family members.
The state of no refuge
There is no adequate law in Nepal’s constitution that deals with the sexual harassment or molesting of women.
Why Nari Dibas is Important
It recognizes the efforts
Nepal continues to make strides towards gender equality. In the last decade, the country has gotten its first female Chief Justice and its first female President. As Nepalese work to reverse centuries of patriarchal conditioning, it is important to stop and applaud every cracked glass ceiling and every crossed hurdle.
It lays the path
Several organizations like RUWON, the Women’s Foundation Nepal, Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), and Saathi are doing the tireless work of connecting women to resources, educational avenues, financial help, and domestic shelter. Nari Dibas recognizes their valiant efforts and raises awareness on their behalf.
It recognizes the power
Nari Dibas honors the power of womanhood and celebrates the strength of femininity. From rounding rolls of dough to running a country, there’s nothing women can’t do.
Nari Dibas dates