Gendered consequences of social changes in Nepal: rich possibilities

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Abstract

In this commentary, we reflect on changing gender dynamics within a broader political- economic shift currently taking place in Nepal. We critique how Nepali women are stereotypically represented as vulnerable, uneducated or less educated Third-World women, who lack agency and are dependent on their male kin, in development and popular media discourses. Our key proposition is that the major political and economic changes over recent decades, beyond the obvious political changes witnessed in Nepal in 1950, 1990 or 2005, are having a significant impact on the lives of both women and men, across different social classes, castes, regions, religions and ethnic backgrounds. After outlining some of the stereotypical representations of Nepali women, followed by a brief discussion on the broader political- economic shifts, we conclude this paper by making four key propositions. These are: 1) current political-economic shifts have profound gender consequences, which need to be examined and understood in scholarship; 2) discussion on the position of Nepali women has been limited exclusively to sociocultural and religious domains, and particularly within Hindu patriarchy, which has overlooked the diversity of Nepali women; 3) the caring economy remains invisible; and, finally 4) with regards Nepali men, their changing roles and ideas of masculinities have been largely overlooked in any gender development policy debate. Overall, we argue that a more grounded, up-to-date, intersectional and critical understanding of dynamic gender relations within the shifting political economy is warranted, which neither romanticises nor pathologises Nepali women’s and men’s social positions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Bulletin of Himalayan Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • gender
  • Nepal
  • representation
  • Hindu patriarchy
  • social change

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