Dalit Women

Dalit women in Nepal face caste and gender discrimination in every area of their lives. Even though the caste system was abolished in 1963, society still considers Dalits inhuman and untouchable. Whilst it is estimated that Dalit people make up close to 15% of Nepal’s population, they are widely discriminated against by communities and the government.
Dalit women and girls are at greater risk of sexual abuse, violence, early child marriage and human trafficking. More than 60% of Dalit girls are married before the age of 16. In primary education, if a Dalit girl is sent to school, she often faces shame and humiliation from non-Dalit students and finds it difficult to trust teachers. Only 11.8% of Dalit girls go on to secondary education

Dalit Women's Movement

Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) was founded in 1994 to establish the rights of Dalit women by organising and empowering them to demand inclusion at all levels of society. We have been working with FEDO since 2009 to promote Dalit women's rights and now over 53,000 Dalit women from across Nepal stand united, organised and mobilised against violence and discrimination.

Working at four levels - grassroots, regional, national and international - FEDO promotes women's advancement and participation at the decision-making level and campaigns for the economic, social, and political rights of Dalit women.

Before FEDO, many Dalit women were isolated, unable to leave the house, and if they did they wouldn’t show their face. Women-led groups give Dalit women the opportunity to come together to learn new skills, build confidence and empower each other to know their rights and have their voices heard.

Women’s Economic Empowerment

80% of Dalit women live below the poverty line, which keeps Dalit women and girls in a cycle of isolation, at risk of violence and with a lack of education and financial independence. FEDO runs savings clubs; supporting women to understand the rights they have over the money they earn and training them how to budget, negotiate and save.

These savings clubs have had a huge impact on the lives of Dalit women and their financial independence. Many have set up their own businesses such as fish farms, mushroom farms and tailoring services, and some have secured employment working for the government. Integrating Dalit women into society in this way challenges social prejudice and ensures Dalit women’s voices are heard and their rights are realised. 

104. Laxmi Kumasi Sunar, aged 31, is a member of Bageshwori Dalit Women Group.

Political Participation

With Dalit women underrepresented in politics, FEDO encourages women to get involved in political parties, women’s rights and campaigning in their own regions. FEDO members lobby the government on issues facing Dalit women and hold the government to account if allocated funds are not spent in-line with original plans.

In May and June, Nepal will see its first local elections in 20 years and with FEDO’s influence, Dalit women are running in the elections. FEDO is busy supporting these women, ensuring they have the tools, knowledge and community relationships they need to succeed. FEDO is fighting to get Dalit women into power, for Nepal to hear their voices, and to change the opportunities for the current and future generations of Dalit women. 

Visit FEDO's website

Learn more about our work in Nepal

For just £53 you could help set up a new women's group, providing up to 25 women with a safe place to support and learn from each other.