The Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) has released its Concluding Observations, after the periodic review of Nepal. The CEDAW Committee took note of a number of concerns regarding Dalit women and made relevant recommendations.
Below is a summary of the recommendations – for more information on IDSN’s participation in the review please see this article.
Equal participation in political and public life
Regarding equal participation in political and public life, the Committee regretted that there is still insufficient enforcement of electoral quota and of constitutional provisions on proportional inclusion of Dalit women. The Committee specifically noted that Dalit women are overrepresented in lower positions, such as vice speaker at the federal level, and deputy mayor or vice president at local level. The Committee also noted the failure to consult Dalit women who have been elected at local level in the decision-making process and the insufficient efforts to strengthen their capacity to fulfill their mandate. The Committee recommended Nepal to raise awareness of public officials and society as a whole on the importance of the full participation of (Dalit) women in decision-making processes.
Implementation of the Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Act
The Committee recommended Nepal to ensure the implementation of the Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Act of 2011, reinforcing the recommendation made to the country during the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. In this regard, it was also recommended that Nepal enhance access to women facing intersectional and multiple forms of discrimination, including Dalit women, to health services, education, safe water and sanitation services, food, fertile land, natural resources, housing, credit and income-generating opportunities, including through the Presidential Women Upliftment Program, in line with the constitutional provisions on the “special opportunities”. The Committee also recommended the adoption of affirmative action programs with clear timelines to enhance access of women facing intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination.
Nepal also was recommended to provide targeted financial support and legal aid for Dalit women, in order to ensure access to justice for the violations these women sustain, according to General Recommendation No. 33 (2015).
Although the CEDAW Committee has welcomed the criminalization of a number of harmful practices, it expressed concerns that those practices, such as discrimination against Dalit women remain persistent in Nepal.
Right to equal education
On the right to equal education, the CEDAW Committee noted the lower enrollment and the higher drop-out rates among girls from poor and remote areas, from “lower castes” and other marginalized girls. In this regard, the Committee recommended Nepal to implement Target 4.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals and General Recommendation No. 36 (right of girls and women to education) in order to reinforce equality and inclusion in education, by enhancing support systems, scholarships and incentives for girls from “lower castes”.
Human trafficking and exploitation
On human trafficking and exploitation, the Committee recommended Nepal to take into consideration Target 5.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, in order to eradicate trafficking and other sexual types of exploitation. It also recommended Nepal to lift the ban imposed on women, including Dalit women, to seek employment abroad and raise awareness about the risks and the criminal nature of trafficking.
Data disaggregated by caste
Nepal was also recommended to expedite the revision of the Census Act to collect data disaggregated by sex, gender, age, ethnicity, caste, marital status, disability and profession, and make the collection of such data through all state policy and programmes mandatory.
On the right to health, the Committee noted persistent discrimination by healthcare providers against Dalit women, although the ongoing deliberations on the Public Health Bill in order to provide non-discriminatory health services free of costs and the introduction of components on reproductive health in the school curricula.
Implementation of the Recommendations
The Nepalese government, as a State party to the CEDAW, is under an obligation to implement the recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee in good faith. The 7th periodic report is due on November 2022.