Women entering men’s work domain: Report

KATHMANDU: Nepali women’s participation in education, labour market, governance and politics has increased over time, said a report published by United National Educational, Scientific and cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The report: ‘Gender, Jobs and Education: Prospects and Realities in Nepal’ published by UNESCO in June states that women are gradually entering occupations previously perceived as suitable for men only.

It said that political changes and deliberate efforts of government and non-government sectors have largely contributed to this, but progress is unevenly distributed among castes, ethnicities, and locations.

The review showed that the rate of participation in the labour force for women and men aged five years and above is almost equal. There are more women than men among the employed population. However, among the 15 years and above population, male employment ratio is 7 per cent higher than women’s.

The report further said that the number of unpaid women workers is higher than unpaid male workers.

A positive connection between educational attainment and employment is quite visible as education data shows progress in female education, particularly, at school level. However at the tertiary level, female participation decreases.

According to the 2008 Nepal Labour Force Survey, 61 per cent of employed females aged 15 and above never attended school, 20.3 per cent attained less than primary to primary level education and 15 per cent attained lower secondary to secondary level education.

This shows that most women enter the labour force with a minimum level of education. Consequently, they end up in low skilled and low paid jobs, that is, they often enter the informal sector. This trend is growing.

It said that more and more women and men are compelled to join informal sector employment, which is considered vulnerable in terms of physical and financial securities.

Many young girls and women who migrate either for work or education from rural areas to city centres also end up in vulnerable employment such as waitresses in restaurants and bar dancers.

It said that most grade 10 students who participated in the research believed that traditional gender stereotypical roles and responsibilities of women and men in society was responsible for this.

UNESCO Office said this report ‘Gender, Jobs and Education: Prospects and Realities in Nepal’ is part of a series of studies undertaken in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal and Vietnam. Consolidating all the country studies, UNESCO Bangkok has published a synthesis report titled ‘Gender, Jobs and Education: Prospects and Realities in the Asia-Pacific’.