Women in the himalays

Women are the mainstay of rural Himalayan communities but face many hardships. They are not only the backbone of family life but often toil in the fields as the main breadwinners due to male mass emigration (80% of Nepali migrants are men). Women are vulnerable because of traditional social discrimination and low expectations; a high drop out rate from school and a low level of literacy are obstacles to self improvement while limited access to health services compromise their welfare. Economically, in 80% of Nepali households, women do not own any assets; poverty is their principal trap.

The impact of climate change on farming raises additional difficulties because women lack opportunities to adapt to new contexts. There is a growing need for both international and local communities to understand how best to meet the needs of women living and working in the Himalayas, what practices and policies have been tried and worked (or not worked and why), and how development agencies, NGOs and others can adjust their future approaches to be of maximum service to those women and their communities. There is need for a structured approach to information gathering, operational practice and lesson learning concerning women in the Hima-layas, and a need for all of it to be analysed and shared among those who can use and apply it.

“Women contribute tirelessly towards the betterment of their families and community. However, their influence has often been overlooked. Women in rural areas in the Himalayas face challenges especially because, being women, they have been deprived of an education and access to and control over resources, decision-making, mobility etc. Expectations surrounded by beliefs and practices rooted in a patriarchal society have created hurdles that limit women in the private sphere and exclude them from the public sphere. Hence to escape this situation and exclusion, the struggle for equality continues”.


Tshering Yodin Sherpa

Senior Programme Officer – Gender Kathmandu, Nepal