Single women’s population rising markedly in Nepal

Experts say the rise in life expectancy, education, awareness, and women's independence could be taken as the major factors for the increase.

Arjun Poudel

Arjun Poudel

The Kathmandu Post


Experts say the rise in life expectancy, education, awareness, and women's independence could be taken as the major factors for the increase. PHOTO: THE KATHMANDU POST

August 22, 2023

KATHMANDU – The number of single women after marriage rose to 7.3 percent in 2021 from 1.5 percent in 2011, a report of the 12th National Census by the National Statistics Office has shown.

Single women include widows, divorcees and separated women, who had once married but no longer have husbands.

The percentage of single men also rose in the 10-year period, but not in the same proportion as women.

According to the report, the percentage of single men rose to 1.5 in 2021 from 0.5 percent in 2011.

The study was carried out on 14,809,294 married people, both male and female. Of the total, 7,999,252 were females and 6,810,042 males. The number of widows was 826,147 while widowers were 255,008—571,139 more women than men.

Similarly, 21,287 women and 15,852 men said that they were divorced.

As many as 59,525 women and 35,757 men said that they no longer have partners and are single.

The report showed that women are more likely to be separated than men from their spouses.

Experts say the reasons for the rise in the number of marital breakdowns and single women could be numerous, but the rise in life expectancy, education, awareness, and women’s independence could be taken as the major factors.

“Compared to their male counterparts, it is not easy for single women to remarry,” said Yogendra Bahadur Gurung, professor and head of the Central Department of Population Studies at Tribhuvan University. “Our society still does not easily accept the second marriage of women. Women also do not want to marry immediately after separation, as they have to shoulder the responsibility of raising their children.”

Men after separation from their wives can easily enter into a new married life even if they have children.

“Entrenched stigma prevents women from remarrying immediately as men after separation from their spouses,” said Babita Basnet, a senior media person, at an event organised by the United Nations Population Fund on Sunday. “The rise in life expectancy has also increased women’s numbers.”

Education and women’s empowerment have also contributed to the rise in the number of single women. Women have started to come out of homes in search of employment, go abroad and earn better, which has played an important role in empowering them.

Compared to the past, the number of single men has also risen. But if they are not too old, they could still find a life partner.

“Earlier women used to tolerate domestic violence, the injustice of their husbands and in-laws,” said Gurung. “But things have changed a lot. Empowered women have options now. They can survive even after being separated from their partners.”

Experts say the so-called family values might have been somewhat affected by separation of women, but it has on the other hand prevented a lot of suicides and depression in women. They believe the state should increase its role in protecting single women and men.

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