Kathmandu, December 1
A report launched by the US Embassy in Nepal yesterday highlights barriers adolescent girls in the country face in accessing education, health care and safety.
The study was undertaken by the US embassy in rural, urban and semi-rural municipalities in Baitadi, Kapilvastu, Nuwakot, Saptari, Sindhupalchowk and Surkhet from among the stakeholder groups that included district officials and non-governmental organisations, schools and other local officials, teachers, community leaders, parents, and girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 19 years.
The findings of the report provide data of education, child and early marriage and violence against women. It also includes main barriers to completing secondary school, early marriage and adolescent pregnancy, gender-based violence and safety and migration, among others. The findings also indicate that common barriers for adolescent Nepali girls include entrenched discriminatory gender norms, lack of funds for school, arranged marriages, lack of support for menstrual hygiene management and proper latrine facilities at school, unsafe school environments, limited job opportunities, and the lack of positive female role models in the lives of teenage girls to inspire and influence them.
The data reveals that among the fieldwork districts Baitadi, Kapilvastu and Saptari are among the 15 districts in Nepal with the highest proportion of adult females who got married between the ages of 10 and 14 years, with Baitadi and Kapilvastu being among the only seven of Nepal’s 75 districts where more than 20 per cent of adult women were child brides.
The report has also reveals barriers to completing secondary school among the adolescents. As per the report, dropout in secondary school peaks in Grades VIII and X for both the girls and boys. Lack of money for school-related expenses, along with stress from parents’ economic or alcohol-related problems, are the reasons for them to drop out of schools. The girls face burdens of household chores, arranged marriage and elopement, menstruation and parents’ unequal treatment of daughters compared to sons and failure to value their education.
Forty-nine per cent of the respondents cited the time poverty caused by household chores and the common expectation that girl’s principal responsibility should be household chores were among the most serious difficulties that girls faced staying in school.
The report reveals that 60 per cent of Newar women reported experiencing the highest levels of psychological spousal violence. Madhesi and Dalit women reported experiencing the highest proportions of psychological, physical and sexual spousal violence, with the Kewat, Musahar, Dusadh/Paswan/Pasi and Khatwe groups being among the 10 groups with the highest proportions of all three.
The assessment aims to identify opportunities for the US Embassy to invest in and develop strategic partnerships to improve adolescents’ lives, particularly emphasising girls’ empowerment, focusing on their access to quality education.
A version of this article appears in print on December 02, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.