Development organisations aiming to end violence against women, and to promote women’s empowerment in societies such as Nepal, need to pay attention to the question of women’s citizenship, and its links to empowerment and independence. In Nepal, citizenship rights are still accorded to women through male relatives, rather than in their own right. Many women are unaware of the importance of citizenship; yet others associate citizenship with an independent identity, the freedom to make choices, and the ability to obtain education, a good job, and a future. This article, by a development worker, identifies the barriers to women’s citizenship that exist in Nepal, and focuses on the additional obstacles to citizenship faced by ethnic minorities, trafficked women and children, and refugees. Currently, organisations based in Nepal are working in alliance with international development agencies to call for reforms enabling women to gain full and equal citizenship with men.
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