Citizenship certificate paving way for economic and social security

Bimala Nepali receiving citizenship certificate from Dhading's Chief District Officer, Umesh Kumar Dhakal. Photo by: Sarita Rai/Oxfam

Bimala Nepali receiving citizenship certificate from Dhading's Chief District Officer, Umesh Kumar Dhakal. Photo by: Sarita Rai/Oxfam

"I can now issue a birth certificate to my son, he will be able to enrol into the school and I can also proceed for many things that were left behind for many years”
Bimala Nepali

Bimala Nepali, a single mother from Dhading, could not send her son to school because she didn’t have a citizenship certificate, in the absence of which the boy did not have his birth certificate needed for his enrolment.

The story dates back to the time when Bimala was in a relationship with someone and gave birth without officially being married. The man left her after the birth of the son. When Bimala went to the District Administration Office to acquire the citizen certificate by descent, she was told to get it through her husband's name as she already had given birth to a child.    

Bimala’s father wanted to legally transfer his land and house in the name of his only daughter Bimala but that too wasn’t possible without her having citizenship certificate.

She had shared her story in one of the REFLECT circles organised by Oxfam’s partner organisation in Darkha VDC. At the REFLECT circle, it was known that there were many others who had similar problems. To support people like her who did not have the vital documents, Oxfam with its partner lobbied with the local government. A mobile citizenship camp was then organised in collaboration with the local government in March 2017 where Bimala and 129 others got their citizenship certificates.

"I can now issue a birth certificate to my son, he will be able to enrol into the school and I can also proceed for many things that were left behind for many years,” Bimala broke down into tears holding her citizenship card. She had just been acknowledged legally as a Nepali citizen.

Now, Bimala has issued birth certificate to her son and he goes to school. Bimala wants to be engaged in a number of committees and wants to advocate other women on importance of having citizenship and other vital documents.  Her father is working on transferring his ancestral property and a piece of land legally in her name.

Some of the REFLECT participants said that they did not get citizenship certificate because of non-cooperation from husband while some lamented that they could not go to the district headquarters to make the certificate for the

lack of transportation cost. Story of Punam Dhakal, 23 of Surpani VDC-3 in Gorkha is not different. She could not get birth certificate for her three years old son as she did not have citizenship certificate. With the initiatives of Oxfam and local partner Goreto Gorkha, she could ultimately get her citizenship certificate which helped her to get birth certificate for her son.

Purna Gurung, 52, of Dharche Lapugaun Rural Municipality, Gorkha said that she made agreement of compensation for building house after getting her citizen certificate while Sanu Maya Tamang, 71, of Dupcheshwor Rural Municipality in Nuwakot said the citizenship certificate helped her to get senior citizen certificate and social security allowances.   

With the facilitation of Oxfam and partners, a total of 619 citizenship certificates and vital registration documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, migration certificates and death certificates) have been issued in Dhading, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk and Kathmandu from May 2015 to November 2017.  These documents have helped them to claim the support provided by government for post-earthquake reconstruction and other social security provision provided by the government.