Widows demand economic empowerment

Kathmandu, June 23

Despite having women-friendly constitution and laws in the country, women continue to suffer discrimination and violence in the country. After immense pain and suffering, they are now demanding education, employment and respect in society.

Anita Devkota, a single woman from Saptari who arrived in Kathmandu to celebrate International Widows’ Day today said, “We still suffer due to illiteracy and lack of employment.”

Devkota who was widowed in her early 20s said she had to face discrimination and injustice and her mobility was restricted after the death of her husband. “The government should issue ration cards for widows as in India. Similarly, widows should be given employment, 40 per cent concession in public transport, and free education and health services,” she said.

Ratna Regmi from Dailekh, a widow who lost her husband in the decade long insurgency, said her family had no source of income after the death of her husband. “As a widow, it is very difficult to eke out a living, especially without education and skills,” she said, adding that the government should provide women like her skill-based training for their economic empowerment. “The government must declare our husbands as martyrs and provide us employment,” she added.

According to the 2011 census, of the country’s total population of 26,494,504, the number of widows is 498,606. This is 1.88 per cent of the total population.

Similarly, the lcensus report also states that only 19.17 per cent of Nepali women actually own property.

Lily Thapa, founding president of Women for Human Rights, Single Women Group said, “Despite widow-friendly laws, plans and policies, widows continue to suffer at different levels.”


‘Govt will provide skills training to the needy’

Kathmandu, June 23

Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare CP Mainali today said the government was serious about empowering women.

Inaugurating a two-day workshop organised by Women for Human Rights, Single Women Group on the occasion of 6th International Widows Day today, Minister Mainali said, “It is very challenging to make women economically independent and capable of freely using their rights but the government will try its best.”

Stating that the government would provide skill-based training to needy women, he said, “Our constitution is very progressive as it provides equal rights to all groups of people. We have a women-friendly constitution. However, we still need to do a lot for women.” Minister Mainali further said the feelings, desires and capabilities of widows must be respected.

During the programme, 24 widows, who have been contributing to uplift the living standards of widows in their community, were felicitated.

Similarly, ‘I am alone’, a report prepared by WHR and Oxfam about the impact of quake on widows was also launched today. Around 150 widows from 74 districts are participating in the workshop.