Disadvantages in Nepal

Medical Care

Medical care is limited, and Nepal has virtually no social programs for people who, for whatever reason, end up destitute—no food stamps, no welfare or AFDC, and no social security.

Women and girls in particular are disadvantaged. Only 42 percent of girls are able to read or write, and their older sisters and mothers are even less likely to be literate. The legal system also discriminates against women. Cultural mores make it difficult for women to assert their basic human rights and receive health care and a decent education. Lack of education among girls usually means early marriage and childbearing (34% of Nepali girls are married by arrangement before they are 16 years old, and seven percent are under 10 years of age). For such young women, there is little family planning, poor child care, and a lower likelihood that their own daughters will be educated. The cycle of poverty continues.

Life Expectancy

Nepal is one of the only countries in the world where women's life expectancy—at 59 years old—is less than that of men, who live almost 61 years on average. Infant mortality in Nepal is one of the highest in the world (64% per 1000 live births).

According to a UNICEF report, half of all Nepalese children under the age of five who do survive aremalnourished—a preventable condition that nevertheless can leave them with physical and mental problems for a lifetime. (It is estimated that one in ten people in Nepal, or over 2 million individuals, suffer from some form of disability.)

The Young People

The majority of Nepal's population—51 percent—are children under age 18. These young people are hardly prepared for the challenges that lie ahead of them. While 70 percent of Nepalese children begin elementary school, half of them drop out before the fifth grade.

Fortunately, the internal armed conflict in Nepal that caused millions of children to suffer and almost 1000 to be killed or injured, came to a relatively peaceful resolution in 2006.