Despite human rights abuses, the ten-year conflict in Nepal brought aspects of empowerment to women, changing their role in the family and community, as women became active outside the home, challenged the security forces, and began to assert their rights as citizens. Drawing on a research project into the participation of women in community development projects in three areas of Nepal, the present article examines how far development agencies in the post-conflict period have succeeded in furthering women’s citizenship rights, and in giving voice to women’s concerns and participation. It argues that development organisations and agencies have continued to operate mostly without including the voices of women, and women are disappointed by these non-participatory and top-down development models, which are leaving women’s status as second-class citizens unchallenged. Women are consequently exploring alternatives. The article uses examples from the field and interviews and focus groups with marginalised women and non-government organisation workers to suggest ways in which development agencies can work with participatory models to advance women’s citizenship rights. Given the diversity of social groups and peoples and gender relations in Nepal, the present article will also raise critical questions about the form and content of women’s participation, and the intersections of gender, class, caste, and ethnicity on citizenship rights.
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