An Exploration of the Impact of Education and Mobility on the Political Engagement of Young Married Nepali Women
Following the civil war of 1996–2006, there was a dramatic increase in the labor mobility of young men and the inclusion of young women in formal education, which led to the transformation of the political landscape of rural Nepal. Mobility and schooling represent a level of prestige that rural people regard as a prerequisite for participating in local community politics. Based on a fieldwork in two villages of Panchthar district in eastern Nepal, this article explores how these changes strengthen or weaken women’s political agency and how this is reflected in their participation in community politics. It analyzes how formal education and mobility either challenge or reinforce traditional gendered norms which dictate a lowly position for young married women in the household and their absence from community politics. The article concludes that women are simultaneously excluded and included from community politics. On the one hand, their mobility and decision-making powers decrease with the increase in the labor mobility of men and their newly gained education is politically devalued when compared to the informal education that men gain through mobility, but on the other hand, schooling strengthens women’s political agency in some political spheres and they occasionally exercise political power behind the scenes.
Gender, Technology and Development, 2016, Vol 20, Issue 1, p. 25-48
Nepal; women; political agency; education; mobility; Bourdieu