From where I stand: “Local and global political and economic systems create and maintain social inequality”

Durga Sob is a Nepalese activist who founded the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) in 1994, just ahead of the adoption of the visionary Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. She is among the 500 activists meeting in Tunisia from 24-26 April for the Tunis Forum on Gender Equality to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration, nearly 25 years on.


Durga Sob. Photo: UN Women/Emad Karim
Durga Sob. Photo: UN Women/Emad Karim

Over a journey of 25 years, we have seen many peaks and plains… The status of women in Nepal used to be very low. Child marriage was rampant; women were limited to household chores, deprived of education, health and employment opportunities, among others. There was very limited representation and participation of women in politics.

Since then, substantial changes have taken place… The Constitution of Nepal (2015) guaranteed various rights to women, such as equal rights in lineage, to safe motherhood and reproductive health, the right to participate in all state structures, the right to special opportunities in education, health, employment and social security… and the right to property and family affairs. Nepal [now] reserves 33 per cent of legislative positions for women.

These all are very positive signs. But there are a few issues for which we need to continue our fight. When it comes to the status of Dalit women, they have the highest poverty levels, are often landless and depend on the dominant caste for employment, wages and loans. The issues of citizenship and intersectionality have not been addressed yet.

Local and global political and economic systems create and maintain social inequality.

Violence, discrimination, exclusion and no access to productive resources and services are the major challenges that Dalit women are facing on a regular basis. They are treated as untouchables and thus not allowed to touch public taps or enter temples. Dalit women suffer both gender and caste-based violence in the public and private domains… yet they have less access to justice.

I believe that it’s time to work on addressing the challenges that Dalit women face. Increased access of women from Dalit and other excluded groups to State resources, services, participation, economic opportunities and justice should be a focus in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

SDG 1: No poverty
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

Durga Sob, 35, is the Founding President of the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), which has impacted the lives of over 1,900 women across South Asia as a grantee of UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality. A participant of the Tunis Forum, she believes it provides important opportunities to highlight the need for advancing Dalit women’s rights in development and access to justice.