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Title: Women's participation in development : listening to Nepalese voices
Author: Pant, Bijan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2702 0503
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2010
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For more than a decade, I have been enthusiastically engaged in and around the issues of community development, women and the role of governmental (GOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). From my early school days, I started noticing that my grandmother, mother, sister and other women in and around my community have limited space and access in the public areas compared to the male members of the family and the community. Out of curiosity, I started considering and asking the question "why do all of these women have limited access and opportunities and no decisive role at all in both private and public spheres, even though they work harder and longer hours?" Since then, this question has been a major concern to me. It has become clear why my mother sent me to the community meetings/gatherings when my father was away from home. I wondered at the time why she could not go to the meetings herself. I had to go, even though I did not enjoy those gatherings of senior male members of the community (mostly the heads of households). My mother would remind me of my "manly" duty and responsibility. Later, I came to understand that the public sphere was not meant for women and that my mother, by not breaking the social norms, had tried to prove that she was a "good" woman. As a result of this experience, I have been interested in exploring the causes and consequences of different practices and treatment based on gender identity in Nepalese society and elsewhere in the world. Men generally occupy the highest position in power hierarchies, establishing themselves as provider and protector, a status that allows them to have control over the lives of women. Nepal is no exception to this rule where the roles of Nepalese women are underestimated and thus unrecognized. Based on this background, my attempt in this study has been to address the research question: Why are women in rural Nepal not able to stand up and participate in community development activities as men do even though in the official documents of both GOs and NGOs their roles are accepted and involvement is sought? In the Nepalese context, Civil Society Organizations such as NGOs are claiming that they are working for and with women to bring them into the mainstreaming development process, and GOs are accepting the fact that women are equally contributing to the household and community from economic as well as sociocultural standpoints. If that is the case, then for instance, what roles are NGOs playing to enhance women's active participation in the process of development practices? In this study, I have tried to establish answers by conducting one to one interviews with women in the community to national level activists, focus group discussions from local to policy level, and secondary level data both qualitative and quantitative. The preliminary findings indicate that women's real representation comes through community based organizations (CBOs) which are more effective than at the level of GOs and NGOs. This small level study has time and resource limitations, however the data provides an insight into how women are marginalized within all 'classes' (upper, middle & lower) as a second-classc itizens. In conclusion, I camet o find that men are still holding a decisive role from the house to nation and throughout a top-down system of development. Men are the breadwinners, decision makers and donors/givers - always at an advantage over women in developing countries like Nepal. The research concludes that CBOs such as Women's Forums and the Young Farmers' Group are examples of women raising women's collective voices in order to challenge the supremacy of patriarchal development practices. CBOs like these provide an alternative model of development where priorities go for consultation over monopoly, process over product and local cooperation over competition for sustainable development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available