In Nepal there are clear gender roles and accompanying expectations about male and female behavior in social spaces. Based on these expectations and traditions there are key obstacles to local women’s opportunities to be active participants in social life. The creation of two community libraries in village Nepal in 1999 and 2001 has created opportunities for women’s involvement in community-based activities and programs. Through their involvement in library activities, women gain access to education, information and communication and the opportunity to learn about financial matters. This paper explores the impact that women’s involvement in the library has on their overall community participation. It also explores the potential of the library as a vehicle for important ‘grass-roots’ social change.

Author Biography

Kirsty Martin is an anthropologist employed as a researcher at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) on the international research project entitled ‘Finding a Voice’ (FaV). Martin is the Australian-based research coordinator for the Nepal team. Her previous research investigated the socio-cultural meaning of local women’s organizations in Indonesia.

Sita Adhikari has a master’s in economics. She has been working as an Ethnography Action Researcher on the Finding a Voice project since August 2006. She works in Jhuwani Community library and Agyauli community library, Nawalparasi. Sita has been the president of the Jhuwani community saving and credit cooperative for the past two years and the women’s section coordinator of Jhuwani community library for the past five years.