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Inspiring video from Feminist Dalit Organization – FEDO, Nepal about Dalit women and political representation in Nepal. Meet som of the fantastic women putting Dalit rights on the political agenda in Nepal and working together across party lines to create a better future.
When a record number of Dalit women now take their seat in local Government across the country it is indeed a dream come true. IDSN members in Nepal have been working for decades to increase the political participation of Dalit women, resulting in the 2017 Local Level Election Act stipulating that at least one of the four members of each Ward Committee should be a woman from the Dalit community. As a result of this over 7000 Dalit women stood for election and thousands will be set to take their seat in local Government this autumn.
This paper, compiled by the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) of Nepal in consultation with Dalit women’s groups, seeks to inform the international community on the occasion of the High Level Political Forum on the SDGs 2017. It lays out the situation for Dalit women in Nepal, including the protections, the achievements and the challenges, and makes recommendations to governments and donors on the implementation of the gender provisions of the SDGs, to ensure that Dalit women’s rights are achieved and that no-one is left behind.
Pabitra Bishwokarma is the President of the Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) in the Makhanpur District of Nepal. “I was forced to get married when I was only 14. My husband was 11 years older than me and we had never met. I wanted to continue at school, but my parents insisted that I marry. So I tried to poison myself. But I still had to get married. “I heard FEDO interviewed on the radio and was interested in what they said about Dalit women’s rights. After I became District President I realised that I needed to be more educated so that I could motivate and help other women. “My ambition is to be a political leader and a role model for the Dalit community. In the past Dalit women have been used by political parties, but, thanks to FEDO, we now have bargaining power.
Women from the Dalit caste in Nepal face huge discrimination on every level and are treated as outcasts in society. They are made even more vulnerable by their lack of access to money, housing and land. We met Sharada, a woman from the poorest Dalit community. She gets support from our partner Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) to understand and fight for Dalit women’s rights.
Deemed ‘untouchable’ by her community, Kamala faced discrimination for being a Dalit woman. People were afraid of her and she felt ashamed. With support from the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), Kamala joined the Shiba Madesi Dalit Women’s Group where she gained the skills and confidence to claim her rights and take control of her life
Married at just nine years old, Anita’s story is far from uncommon among Dalit women. Facing discrimination for her lower caste status, Anita was led to believe she was ‘untouchable’ by her community. Through joining a women-led group organised by the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), Anita built strength, grew in confidence and made friendships. Now, as the President of the group, she stands up for the rights of Dalit women and girls.
Mayawati was illiterate for much of her life. As a Dalit woman, she faced discrimination and was ashamed of who she was. With support from IDSN member Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), Mayawati joined a women-led group and completed training courses. This helped her to realise how important her voice is.