Women Empowerment

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The long feminist movement throughout the world helped women achieve equal rights like right to vote, right to education, right to work and have equal pay, reproductive rights and right to education. Nepali women too have actively taken part in the social and political movements and have worked hard to attain the rights conferred by the constitution and the existing laws.  Attainment of these rights have brought substantial changes in women’s lives, but women empowerment in real sense is only possible through economic independence and role enhancement in economic activities and decision making. 


Economic empowerment plays a very important role in advancing women's rights and promoting gender equality. When women have access to economic resources, and are financially independent they possess better decision-making power and can assert greater control over their lives, improve their well-being, and contribute more effectively to their families and communities. Economic empowerment reduces women’s dependence on others for their livelihood. This gives women a sense of control over their lives and a larger autonomy to decide for themselves.


The Civil Code 2017, grants Nepali women equal inheritance rights and there are reservations for women in Public Service Commission. The government has the policy to empower women through education and by providing reservations in government jobs. Women’s participation in workforce has risen over the years and women are being economically empowered. The number of women entrepreneurs in Nepal has increased over time. Women are doing businesses that was considered male-only domain a few decades back. The increased access to education, skill development training and global changes have made it possible for women to prove themselves as entrepreneurs.


In this very context, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has emphasised the need to make women economically empowered and independent. While inaugurating 7th International Women Entrepreneurs Business Fair 2024 here the other day, the Prime Minister said that the condition of women is continuously getting better, but we are still not in a situation to be fully satisfied with the progress we have made on this front. Thus everybody should give a push to women’s empowerment. First and the foremost prerequisite for women’s empowerment in today’s world is economic empowerment. The Prime Minister said that the government facilitating access to markets for women entrepreneurs by organising trade fairs, exhibitions, and networking events where they can showcase their products and services. Additionally, the government provides assistance to women entrepreneurs in accessing domestic and international markets.    


As per the government’s policy, various banks in Nepal provide women loans with low-interest rates, and subsidies to encourage them to start and expand their businesses. There's a 15 per cent tax exemption for businesses where more than half of the employees are women, along with the opportunity for collateral-free loans at a 6 per cent interest rate. The government has included various tax-exemption policies and has tried to provide subsidies to the women entrepreneurs, so that women can gain more financial independence and contribute for the country.  


However, access to capital remains a major barrier for women entrepreneurs in Nepal. Despite government subsidies, numerous women entrepreneurs encounter challenges when trying to access the benefits announced by the government, such as tax discounts and incentives. Women entrepreneurs in Nepal are often disappointed due to inadequate policy support and complicated bureaucratic processes. Recognising the importance of making women economically empowered, the government should persistently work to create an environment where women entrepreneurs can grow and thrive.

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