Monday, September 7, 2020

Phase II of landmark project, to prevent gender-based violence, launched

 In coordination with the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens (MoWCSC) and relevant provincial and local authorities, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today launched the second phase of a project that seeks to reduce gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls in two provinces.

The Gender-based Violence (GBV) Prevention and Response Project Phase II is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and the Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu. 

The project will provide GBV survivors in 19 municipalities across 8 districts in Sudurpaschim and Province 1 with essential services that support their safety, health and access to justice, according to a press note issued by the UNFPA. “It will empower communities to challenge beliefs and practices that encourage GBV, and support local and provincial governments in the project-supported locations and the federal government to promote policy reforms that will improve women's empowerment,” it reads, adding that the project aims to reach almost 300,000 beneficiaries over the next four years.

“Phase II of the project comes at a critical period in Nepal when the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened gender inequalities and GBV,” MoWCSC secretary Yam Kumari Khatiwada said, adding that the government is pleased that the project builds on the successful experiences of Phase I, which demonstrated the importance of strong coordination among all actors on the ground as well as how effective response interventions can be made sustainable.

Ending GBV and harmful practices against women and girls is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “GBV is a genuine crisis in Nepal and globally,” the press note reads, adding that it undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. “Phase I gave us a lot of hope and encouragement that change is possible with sustained support,” said UNFPA country representative in Nepal Lubna Baqi.

Violence against women and girls, be it emotional, physical, sexual or financial is borne from deeply-rooted discriminatory practices that value men and boys and normalize violence against women and girls. “Promoting gender equality and non-discrimination is one of Switzerland’s key priorities and therefore we are keen to support this project which will work with men, women, boys and girls to address such negative social beliefs and unjust practices,” noted Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Switzerland in Nepal Silvana Hogg.

Nepal has made significant strides towards ensuring gender equality and ending gender-based discrimination and violence through policy and legislative measures. However, more still needs to be done to put the provisions of these legal instruments into reality on the ground. “Advancing women's rights and gender equality is an important priority for the Government of Norway,” ambassador of the Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu Lasse Bjørn Johannessen, said adding that violence against women can never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated.

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