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Gender and Land Rights Database

Nepal

In 2012, the estimated population was 27.47 million, out of which 51.5 percent were women (1). The rural population was 82.7 percent of the total (1). Population density was 191.7  per square kilometre (1). Agricultural land made up 29.7 percent of the total land area. There are 103 social groups, based on caste, ethnicity, religion and language. The population can be divided broadly in Hindu caste groups, Janajatis groups and a third group made of religious minorities. In 2001, Hindu caste groups comprised 57.5 percent of the population, Janajatis accounted for 7.2 percent and the religious minorities accounted for 4.3 percent (4). 86 percent of the population follows Hinduism, 8 percent follows Buddhism and 3 percent follows Islam (5). 

In 2012, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was USD 19 billion, while the per capita GDP was USD690 (1). Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, employing 66 percent of the labour force in 2001 and accounting for 37 percent of the GDP in 2012 (1). Services contributed to 48 percent of the GDP, while industry and manufacturing contributed to 15.4 percent and 6.5  percent respectively (1). Cereals, including rice, wheat and maize, are grown on almost 90 percent of the cropped area and account for 56 percent of the total agricultural production (8). Subsistence small farmers, who produce less than 2 percent of the marketed agricultural produce (9), operate nearly 90 percent of the 3.4 million agricultural holdings (7).

With a Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.463 in 2013, the country ranks 157th out of 187 countries (10). In 2004, 55.9 percent of the population lived under the USD1 per day poverty line (11). An estimated 40 percent of the population, mostly in the hills and mountains, have an inadequate access to food (8). Between 2002 and 2004, 17 percent of the total population was undernourished (11). Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 62.9 years for women and at 62.1 years for men in 2005 (2). The literacy rate is of 57.3 percent and presents a wide gender gap: in 2011, only 46.7 percent of women were literate, compared to 71.1 percent of literate men (1).

In 2010, 92.48.1 percent of the female population was economically active in agriculture (2). Women comprise 65 percent of the workforce in agriculture, although statistics do not include much of the unpaid family labour in subsistence agriculture (8). Additionally, women are responsible for 70 percent of the livestock production, carrying out activities like feed preparation, feeding, cleaning sheds and preparing milk products (12).

In 1964, the Lands Act 2021 was adopted to reduce inequalities  in the distribution of agricultural land (13). One of the most important features of the land reform programme was the fixation of land ceilings, based primarily on the land-man ratio prevailing in the country. Ceilings were also fixed on tenancy holdings. Furthermore, a compulsory savings scheme was implemented to mobilise rural savings for the development of the agricultural sector. The reform supported the removal of some aspects of the traditional pattern of ownership, such as the unlimited concentration of landed property and the landowners’ control over occupancy rights and earnings of their tenants; however, the landowners’ rights in the land were left intact (14). 

Cultivated land is unequally distributed: 70 percent of farmers have an average holding of 0.8 ha (7), while less than 5 percent of holders own most of the fertile land (15). Nearly 25 percent of families are landless (8).

The 1997 amendment of the  Lands Act, 1964 included the provision that mothers, unmarried daughters of 35 years or more, daughters-in-law and granddaughters, can also inherit tenancy rights like their male relatives (16). 

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography