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Nepal

Our research: In Nepal, we are following approximately 1,700 adolescent girls in Nuwakot, Tanahun and Morang districts.

The context: Nepal is a small, mountainous country situated between China and India. One of the world’s poorest countries, and still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2015, about one-quarter of its citizens are adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19.1

Education and learning: Nepali girls are now more likely than boys to be enrolled in both primary and secondary school. However, boys are more likely to complete secondary school and pass the school leaving exam than girls.2 This is driven by parents’ preference for – and greater investment in – sons. Boys are more likely to be sent to higher-quality private schools and are given more time to do homework.3

Bodily autonomy, integrity and freedom from violence: Child marriage has been declining rapidly in recent years, but 40% of young women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18.4 While historically these child marriages were arranged by parents, in some regions of Nepal child-driven child marriages are becoming more common. Research with adult women has found that sexual harassment and gender-based violence are extremely common – but little is known about girls’ experiences.5

Health, nutrition, and sexual and reproductive health: Taboos surrounding sexuality in general – and girls’ sexuality in particular – are strong in Nepal. Adolescents have little access to the comprehensive sex education that would help them understand puberty before they experience it 6 and girls face a variety of restrictions related to menstruation (e.g. in some regions of Nepal girls suffer from chaupadi where they are confined to separate rooms in their homes – or even huts and animal sheds – while they are menstruating).7 Adolescent girls’ access to contraception is also limited, even after marriage, due to a need to prove fertility.

Psychosocial well-being: Nepali girls tend to have more limited mobility and smaller social networks than their male peers.8 Girls are more likely to be sad and depressed than boys, probably because social norms limit their control over their own lives.9

Voice and agency: Nepali parents’ preference for sons limits girls’ lives from birth. Many have little opportunity to express their opinions or make decisions in their childhood homes, their marital homes, their schools or their communities.10 Married girls are often silenced not only by their husbands, but also by their mothers-in-law.11

Economic empowerment: From childhood, girls work more than boys. Among younger adolescents (aged 12–14), 18% of girls work more than 14 hours a week (compared to 12% for boys) and 10% work more than 28 hours a week (compared to 3% for boys).12 Among those aged 15–17, 64% of girls work less than 43 hours each week and 3% work more than that amount (versus 58.5% and 2% for boys).13 Girls and young women have limited access to financial decision-making and are largely excluded from economic empowerment programmes, which tend to favour either boys or older women.

The evidence base: Our Evidence Mappings found that the literature on Nepali adolescent girls’ capabilities covers a range of areas, with the greatest evidence on education, child marriage and physical health – and the gender norms that shape them.14 However, most of what we know focuses only on older girls, and sometimes only older girls who are married.15

Related publications

Policy briefs and policy notes
25.03.20
A tale of contradictions: understanding the impact of social norms on Nepali men and boys
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
25.03.20 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Policy briefs and policy notes | Nepal
A tale of contradictions: understanding the impact of social norms on Nepali men and boys
Read more
Policy briefs and policy notes
21.11.19
Intergenerational capabilities development in mothers and adolescent daughters in Nepal
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
21.11.19 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Policy briefs and policy notes | Nepal
Intergenerational capabilities development in mothers and adolescent daughters in Nepal
Read more
Policy briefs and policy notes
20.11.19
A gender-equitable school index for secondary schools in Nepal and beyond
Education and learning
Nepal
Read more
20.11.19 | Education and learning | Policy briefs and policy notes | Nepal
A gender-equitable school index for secondary schools in Nepal and beyond
Read more
Policy briefs and policy notes
10.12.18
Policy and legal analysis notes: a review of the National Adolescent Health and Development Strategy in Nepal
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
10.12.18 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Policy briefs and policy notes | Nepal
Policy and legal analysis notes: a review of the National Adolescent Health and Development Strategy in Nepal
Read more
Reports
03.12.18
Gendered experiences of adolescents: baseline findings from World Vision's Rupantaram adolescent lifeskills curriculum
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
03.12.18 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Reports | Nepal
Gendered experiences of adolescents: baseline findings from World Vision's Rupantaram adolescent lifeskills curriculum
Read more
Reports
02.12.18
Supporting girls' education: emerging baseline findings from an evaluation of 'Room to Read' in Nepal
Education and learning
Nepal
Read more
02.12.18 | Education and learning | Reports | Nepal
Supporting girls' education: emerging baseline findings from an evaluation of 'Room to Read' in Nepal
Read more
Evidence reviews and evidence digests
21.12.17
Adolescent girls' capabilities in Nepal: a synopsis of the evidence
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
21.12.17 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Evidence reviews and evidence digests | Nepal
Adolescent girls' capabilities in Nepal: a synopsis of the evidence
Read more
Evidence reviews and evidence digests
21.12.17
Adolescent girls' capabilities in Nepal: the state of the evidence on programme effectiveness
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
21.12.17 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Evidence reviews and evidence digests | Nepal
Adolescent girls' capabilities in Nepal: the state of the evidence on programme effectiveness
Read more
Evidence reviews and evidence digests
21.12.17
Adolescent girls' capabilities in Nepal: the state of the evidence
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
21.12.17 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Evidence reviews and evidence digests | Nepal
Adolescent girls' capabilities in Nepal: the state of the evidence
Read more
Reports
10.10.17
Exploring Nepali adolescents' gendered experiences and perspectives
Bodily integrity and freedom from violence
Nepal
Read more
10.10.17 | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Reports | Nepal
Exploring Nepali adolescents' gendered experiences and perspectives
Read more