Nepal: IBA, in collaboration with DLA Piper’s New Perimeter, releases a case study on women lawyers and training initiatives
A new report on a training programme for women in Nepal’s legal profession has been released by the International Bar Association (IBA). According to the report, International training of women lawyers in Nepal: A case study, only 12 per cent of Nepali lawyers are women (approximately 2,200) and there exists a gender bias against women that is similar to that seen in other jurisdictions.
The report was commissioned by the IBA and written by New Perimeter, the nonprofit affiliate of law firm DLA Piper, an IBA Group member. It highlights a training programme, developed by New Perimeter, the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) – a member of the IBA – the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other organisations, seeking to advance women in the legal profession in Nepal.
The challenges faced by women lawyers in Nepal, are also included in the report together with the reasons behind the creation of a network of women lawyers, as well as the need for continuing legal education for women lawyers in various areas of law. Also included are the project’s goals, successes, and challenges.
In 2021, the IBA began an ambitious nine-year research project, 50:50 by 2030: A longitudinal study into gender disparity in law (the ‘Gender Project’). It focuses on women in private practice, in-house legal teams, the judiciary and the public sector in 16 jurisdictions across the globe and is being led by the IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU) with support from the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation (LNROLF).
Although Nepal was not one of the 16 jurisdictions initially selected as part of the IBA and LNROLF study, New Perimeter’s work in Nepal, in collaboration with the NBA and other organisations, serves as an outstanding example of a programme aimed at supporting women’s development in the legal profession and has been included on the IBA website as a supplemental study to the IBA Gender Project.
The IBA LPRU and the LNROLF began collaborating on the Gender Project with the intention of identifying the reasons for the statistical disparity between men and women at senior levels of the legal profession, as well as considering whether diversity initiatives introduced to address this disparity are having a positive impact. To develop effective solutions, it is necessary to identify the issues and the current landscape.
With regard to women lawyers in Nepal, research revealed they face common gender stereotypes, with Nepali society generally holding the view that a woman’s role is in the home; the title of ‘Senior Advocate’ (awarded by the NBA after a lawyer has served for at least 15 years) only having been granted to 30 women – with 660 titles being awarded to men; and that the number of women in leadership positions in law firms is limited. The findings also showed that most women lawyers in Nepal work in academia, followed by domestic or international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). At the latter, work is typically undertaken as legal aid providers and advocates who offer legal assistance to the vulnerable and marginalised. Notwithstanding, women lawyers in the government sector hold some high-level positions, including serving as the Attorney General and two women serving as justices on the highest court. However, only a small percentage of the judiciary is female.
Efforts are being made by New Perimeter, the NBA and the UNDP to increase programming, and there is an increased focus on the Nepali Constitution’s call for equal rights for women and prohibition of gender discrimination. The NBA is currently working to increase the participation of women in the judiciary through affirmative action policies and training programmes and has already developed training programmes for women lawyers on mediation and arbitration. There are also gender equality and access to justice training programmes being conducted by the UNDP.
The International training of women lawyers in Nepal: A case study is testament to the transformative power of global partnerships as drivers of a more equitable legal community.
Notes to the Editor
- Click here to download a PDF of International training of women lawyers in Nepal: A case study.
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