Wednesday, December 5, 2018

'EU organises round table on women rights'

Nepal has made immense progress in terms of gender equality, according to ambassador, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Nepal Veronica Cody.
Addressing a half-day discussion on 'Women in Nepal: the Journey To Prosperity' organised – as part of the global 16-day campaign against Gender Based Violence, being implemented in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) –in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Cody lauded the significant steps taken by Nepal in terms of developing inclusive political and economic policies. However, at the same time, she pointed the need to implement the laws and policies in place as there are cases of violence and discrimination against women being reported time and again. She presented the initiative being taken by the EU to advocate for gender equality with the introduction of the 'Gender Champion'. She herself will be taking up the role from January 1, 2019.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara, speaking on the occasion, highlighted that 41 per cent of elected officials at the local level and 32 per cent at provincial and federal levels are women. He also reiterated that the constitution recognises women’s rights as a fundamental right and National Women Commission as a constitutional body. However, he stated that there is still a lot to do to achieve an 'equality-based society'.
Presenting his paper on 'Women for inclusive laws and policies', chairperson of the Committee on Law Krishna Bhakta Pokharel said that the present constitutional and legal frameworks are the most progressive in terms of gender equality till date. The constitution guarantees women’s property rights, reproductive rights and various other social rights. For the first time, Chhaupadi has been criminalised, dowry carries a sentence of 3 to 5 years and rape is now punishable by up to life in prison, he said. However, he accepted that gender bias still prevails when it comes to granting citizenship in the name of the mother. Overall, he expressed optimism that with equal laws now in place, Nepal may be able to achieve an equal society in the next 8 to 10 years.
Likewise, member at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Mohna Ansari Mohna Ansari, speaking on 'Women for effective implementation of the laws and policies' stated that although Nepal's laws have been improved but they still are not enough. "And as long as 51 per cent of Nepali population (women) is not included in mainstream development, the nation cannot achieve prosperity," she said.
Chairperson of Women, Entrepreneurs and Development Committee at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Kamala Shrestha, on the occasion, presenting an innovative concept of utilising Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to empower women, especially in the field of e-commerce, said that true empowerment can only come from financial independence and hence, women entrepreneurs must be encouraged, most prominently in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). She also shed light on the problem that women are often not trusted to take up leadership roles and so, the society must be convinced of a woman’s leadership potentials.
Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) expert Bharati Silwal Giri, on the occasion, presenting a paper on 'Women in the lead in Nepal: Issues, Challenges and Way forward' challenged the notion of women officials elected at various levels. Women have found a place in public sphere but mostly as token positions. Among the mayor and deputy mayor, women have mostly been elected as deputy mayors. And while Nepal does have a woman president, the position is without power and prerogatives. She expressed that woman must be allowed to do constructive work and not merely given posts. She opined that the major hurdle for women empowerment lies in the institutionalised form of patriarchy.
The roundtable discussion was moderated by Rajesh Hamal, who began by commemorating the relevancy of this discussion on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Head of Political, Press and Public Diplomacy Section at the EU Delegation to Nepal Zane Petre thanking all the participants reaffirmed gender equality as a core value of EU and EU’s commitment in gender as a cross cutting issue in its development cooperation with Nepal. She also highlighted EU’s role in both advocacy and practice of gender equality, not just in Nepal but all around the world.

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