In Nepal, a barrier to rural women's development and advancement is they lack the understanding that they have rights. Women's legal rights awareness enables women to start questioning their problems and empowers them to raise their voices in order to improve their lives. A survey conducted by USAID in 1995 that not only were women unaware of their legal rights or how to access justice but the problems they recognized were in most cases not legal in nature. Based on these finding The Asia Foundation (TAF) developed a legal literacy and advocacy skills training program for rural women in Nepal.

The objective of this study is to determine the impact of legal literacy class on women's consciousness raising and empowerment. The impact focuses on critical awareness of a woman's rights and process toward empowerment. Secondly, this study will make recommendations on how to improve legal literacy as a tool for raising critical awareness and bringing about empowerment.

Three assumptions have been made at the outset of this study. First, a ten week legal literacy course is an effective means to enable rural women to become aware of their rights. Second, a legal literacy course will bring about more than passive awareness; it will develop women's ability to critically reflect and change behavior. Third, critical legal awareness will lead to greater empowerment by women being able to take steps toward stopping injustices, gaining access to redress, or influencing decision makers to change their situation.

A combination of research methodologies have been drawn upon to compile this research including; a pre and post-questionnaire, relaxed rural appraisal (RRA), a technique developed in the 1970s in an effort by outsiders to learn about rural life and conditions, and participatory rural appraisal (PRA), "a family of approaches and methods to enable rural people to share, enhance, and analyze their knowledge of life and conditions, to plan, and to act." (Chambers, 1997, 115)


Inequality and Stratification | Rural Sociology | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Women's Studies