“To address the specific situations faced by indigenous women, the collective rights of indigenous peoples must be recognized as part of protecting the individual rights of indigenous persons. Interpretation and application of human rights treaties concerned with individual rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), should happen with reference to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”
Recommendation made to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) by AIPP, NIWF and FPP
The contours of “New Nepal” we all dream of cannot be shaped without appropriately addressing the concerns being raised by the indigenous women, who comprise half the female population. Traditionally, these women enjoyed greater degree of freedom and socioeconomic status than those from the so-called high caste Hindu groups such as Bahun, Chhetri, and Thakuri, who were restricted by pervasive patriarchy and religious orthodoxy. Unlike these women of the Indo-Aryan origin, the indigenous women were adept in handicrafts and other enterprises and freely participated in socio-cultural events. They faced no restriction during menstruation and were even free to choose their life partner and to remarry if they became single. They were also less affected by the dowry system.
In July, the 49th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) met in New York. Indigenous women in Nepal, under the umbrella of the Nepal Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF), attended the session for the first time to defend and explain the findings that they had presented to the Committee in their Shadow Report.
The report was supported also by the Lawyer’s Association for the Human Rights of Nepal’s Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP) and by the Forest Peoples Programme, and represented the first national level, self-researched and written, report on the status of indigenous women in the newly emerging Nepalese republic.