"How Gender Affects Decision Making - A Case Study of Tibeto- Burmese Women in Kobang VDC, Mustang, Nepal"
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It is commonly presented in scientific literature that Tibeto-Burmese\Mountain women’s status is higher than Indo-Aryan\Terai women. Findings of many studies indicates that Tibeto-Burmese women are traditionally afforded more freedom of movement, independent decision-making, wield considerable power and authority. Therefore, this study is based on the assumption that if it is the case then women of Tibeto-Burmese group are actively involved in the decision making process both at household and communal level institutions. Focussed on Thakali women of Kobang VDC, the study explores their participation in the decision making institutions. Using feminist methodology of explanation through everyday experiences of women’s life, an attempt has been made to present the local perception and the rate of participation of women which is affected by social construction of gender. It is found that despite the wielding of relative power and freedom, women in Kobang VDC are weighed down by structural constrains based on gender and negative ideologies. They are subject to the same levels of gender inequity as lowland women, and thus, essentialise themselves on how they are to behave. This attitude, together with numerous other factors, is causing low negotiating power among women in the Kobang VDC. The limits on women’s everyday activities are structured by what society expects women to be. Concretely a main obstacle to decision making is the limit set by gendered daily working routines. The study emphasizes that moving beyond essentialism is important. It points towards bringing change in perception to change the structures and ideologies that keep one gender subordinate of other. It argues that merely bringing women to the decision making level doesn’t ensure their active input to the process. Therefore, women should be empowered in a holistic way so that women themselves become conscious to cross the boundary created by socially constructed gender ideology and negotiate in order to reduce the existing gender gap to make themselves free for participation in decision making level. Key Words: Tibeto-Burmese women, Decision Making, Gender, Social Construction, Feminism, Feminist Methodology.