Home Institution

Middlebury College

Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2014

Program Name

Nepal: Development and Social Change


In Nepal’s government secondary schools, the reproductive health curriculum is often covered in a single week, and many teachers neglect to administer the lessons thoroughly due to beliefs that sex is a private matter, inappropriate or unnecessary for students. The government curriculum not only lacks detail about reproduction and intercourse, but, in the information it does include, defines male and female puberty processes, reproductive systems, sexual health, roles in family planning, and intercourse in ways that further the gender inequality so deeprooted in Nepali culture. Following secondary school, many women in Nepal are married in arranged matches, to men they have met only briefly, and are soon after expected to bear children. Lack of dialogue and education about reproduction and the subsequent expectation that women engage in sexual relations with unfamiliar men leads many women to fear intercourse and their husbands by association, and lack agency of their own bodies and, by extension, their position as women in society. This study collects the stories of rural and urban women in or approaching arranged marriages, reveals the reality of their knowledge about reproduction, and discusses their resulting levels of confidence. Additionally, this paper critically analyzes the government curriculum, gathers rural and urban teachers’ views of the content, and examines their teaching of such lessons. By understanding the experiences and feelings of women and investigating the state of the reproductive health education, this paper provides a critique of Nepali government education and proposes methods to educate women for sexual confidence and female empowerment.


Education Policy | Gender and Sexuality | Health Policy | Maternal and Child Health | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health Education and Promotion | Women's Health


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