Soma Kumari, Beatrice Knerr:
Problems and Challenges in Attaining Millennium Development Goals towards Universal Primary Education, Gender Equity and Women Empowerment in Nepal


1University of Kassel, International Organic Agriculture, Germany
2University of Kassel, Department of Development Economics, Migration and Agricultural Policy, Germany

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been set to be achieved by 2015. Though Nepal has endorsed the Millennium Declaration to follow the global agendas of MDGs only five out of 75 districts have prepared their district level MDG progress reports. Nepal still remains one of the poorest countries with per capita income of US$ 388 per annum, HDI 0.534, wide income disparities, large gender gap, and poor access to basic needs and social services by a large section of the population. The literacy rate was 53.7% with high disparity between men (65.1%) and women (42.5%). Nevertheless, the primary school enrolment rate increased with an average annual growth rate of 3.5% between 2003 and 2008, with increases especially marked in the district Hill by 6.2% and in the districtTerai by 4.3%. About the empowerment of women, a visible but partly symbolic step has been forwarded that brought 33% of women in the Constituent Assembly in 2008 but in grass-root level organisations women are still lagging behind.

The present study was conducted in two districts (Hill and Terai) of Nepal. The study aims to find out the problems and challenges in attaining MDGs 2 and 3 viz: universal primary education, gender equity and women empowerment. The primary data was collected by interviewing 400 respondents, focus group discussions and consultations with the key informants. Secondary data were obtained from relevant to the issues under consideration. Data were analysed with help of SPSS. The school drop out rate was as high as 82% Hill as compared to that of 18% in Terai. Major causes identified were lack of money, early marriage and family support by children. In general, women have no role in the social, cultural, and economic decision-making which varies from regions, culture and social settings. Major problems and challenges in achieving MDGs is the decade long political conflict that was coupled with people's inability to pay, linguistic differences, and caste and cultural differences. In addition, policy and implementation gaps and lack of monitoring were found to be other critical issues.

Keywords: Millennium Development Goals, primary education, women empowerment


Contact Address: Soma Kumari, University of Kassel, International Organic AgricultureWilhelmshöher Allee - 102, 34119 Kassel, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, October 2010