//Nepalese Women Demand Equal Citizenship

Nepalese Women Demand Equal Citizenship

Forum addresses shortcomings of country’s legal system

Maina Dhital (maina)    

Nepalese women have demanded the removal of discriminatory provisions in the constitution and laws in order to ensure the right of citizenship. They have also urged the state, political parties and civil society to solve the technical, procedural and administrative difficulties, which have become a major hindrance for getting citizenship.

The Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) organized a National Conference on Women’s Equal Rights on Citizenship to pressure the government.

A study entitled "The Citizenship Rights of Nepalese Women" conducted by the FWLD, revealed that discriminatory laws, the death of a father and husband and so on, are identified as a major cause for ordinary people being deprived of citizenship. Furthermore, women and their children, street children, sex workers, Badi communities (traditional sex workers) and internally displaced people due to conflict are most affected by this system.

As a result they are deprived of the right of equal opportunity of employment as well as political, social, educational and economic rights.

Meanwhile, more than one thousand women participated in a rally on Tuesday demanding citizenship rights. Sapana Pradhan Malla, the advocate and the president of the FWLD said that the state couldn’t violate the rights of half the population just because of the open border with India.

The supposition is that India will take advantage of the right if citizenship for children is issued in the name of the mother. "The mother is always the truth, but the father sometimes is only conjecture," she said. "The state should accept descent from women."

According to the FWLD, about 1 million Nepalese people who are eligible to get citizenship are deprived of it. There are 10.37 million people above the age of 15 considered eligible for citizenship. The total population of the country is 23 million.

The representatives of major political parties have given assurances that they will provide the equal right of citizenship for women while preparing a new constitution that would be made after the restoration of full democracy. They also urged women to participate in their movement in order to restore full democracy in the country.

Uma Adhikary, a leader of Nepali Congress said that only inclusive and full democracy could provide such rights to women. Another leader of Communist Party of Nepal Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) said that unless women could strongly pressure concerned parties, they would not get equal rights.

In Nepal, citizenship can be received after the recommendation of a father, regardless of whether he fulfilled his duty towards his children or not.