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यस भित्रका खुराकहरु:
संपादकीय Editorial
साताको कुराकानी Interview
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न्‍यू
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न्‍यूयोर्कमा नेपाली ब्‍‍यावसायहरु

Nepalese Business in NYC
अमेरिकामा नेपाली संस्‍थाहर
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अमेरिकामा नेपाली ब्‍‍यावसायहर
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भाई भन्दा प्यारो भो यो काम ! नेपाल छोडि न्यू योर्कमा एउटी दिदी के गर्दैछिन्‌?


DidiBahin Executive Chair Saloni Singh in New York. Photo: eEyeCam

न्यू योर्क, October 31, 2008- हरेक बर्ष तिहारमा शहरबाट भाईहरु गाउँ जान्छन्‌ दिदीको हातको टीको थाप्न। परदेशबाट दाजुहरु स्वदेश फर्कन्छन्‌ बहिनीको हातको टीको लगाउन। तर यसपाली एउटी नेपाली दिदी आफ्ना भाईहरुलाई तिहारको संघारमा नेपाल मै छोडि न्यू योर्क आई पुगिन्‌ । निष्‍ठुरी? होइन। अस्ती लक्ष्मी पूजाको दिन उनी न्यू योर्कमा ओर्लिन्‌ र हिजो बिहान भाई टिकाको दिन भाईलाई टिका होइन बिदेशीका सामू भाषण छाँटिन्‌। भाग्य बश, यो पन्क्तिकारले भाई टिका लगाउन हिजो साँझ आफ्नी सानी बहिनीको घर पुग्दा यि नेपाली दिदीलाई त्यहा पो भेट्ने मौका पायो। लौ उनको कहानी सुनौं:


DidiBahini is a prominent Kathmandu based NGO established in 1992 which focuses on women empowerment and their participation in development initiatives in Nepal. DidiBahini logo courtesy: DidiBahini.Org
 
हो, यतिखेर काठमाडौंको 'दिदिबहिनी' नाम गरेको नारी संस्था कि सङ्स्थापक अध्यक्ष्य सालोनी सिंह न्यू योर्कमा छिन्‌। तिहारको रमझम र भाई टिकाको मोहकतालाई चटक्कै छोडेर यता आउनु उनको रहर होइन बल्की नेपाली नारीहरुको आवाज अन्तरराष्ट्रिय समाजमा पुगोस्‌ भनेर उनी यसपालाको तिहारमा भाई होइन न्यू योर्कलाई रोज्न पुगेकी हुन्।
 
उनले भनिन्- "भाई टिका त अर्को साल मनाउँला तर नेपाली नारीहरुले पाएको यो मौका फेरी नआउन सक्छ। त्यसैले म तिहारको मुखैमा यता आएँ।"


Activists of DidiBahini in Kathmandu. Photos courtesy: DidiBahini.Org

उनी संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघको सुरक्षा परिषदको रिसोलुसन १३२५ को आठौं वार्षिक बैठकमा प्यानेलिस्टको रुपमा भाग लिन यहाँ आएकी हुन्‌। UN Security Council Resolution 1325 जुन सन् २००० को अक्‍टोबर ३१ मा पारित भएको थियो, जसमा युद्धले महिलामा पर्ने असर र उनिहरुको शान्ती प्रकृयामा भूमिकाको बिषय (impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace) मा केन्द्रित छ ।


Saloni with her colleagues in Siddhipur, Lalitpur. Photos courtesy: DidiBahini.Org

हिजो उनले UNDP (United Nations Development Program) र UN Department of Political Affairs ले आयोजना गरेको गोष्‍ठीमा नेपाली महिलाहरुको नेपालको शान्ती प्रकृयामा भूमिका र अड्‍चनका बिषयमा एक महत्वपूर्ण कार्यपत्र "Emerging Role of Women in Decision Making and implementation of UNSCR # 1325: Innovative Interventions in Nepal" प्रस्तुत गरेकी थिईन्‌ ।

-Pradeep Thapa Magar in New York. Comments? 551-358-7726

यहाँ उक्त कार्यपत्र हाम्रा पाठकहरुका लागि प्रकाशित गरिएको छ:

1. Background:

"Gender discrimination and social exclusion have come to the fore front in the last two decades in Nepal. Government as well as civil society and activist groups have begun to recognize the role women can and should play in the development process of the country. The decade long conflict and political insurgency has further aggravated the issue not only at the thinking level but also with the demonstration by challenging most of the gender stereotyped norms, values and attitudes existing both at social cultural and structural levels. As a result we can observe tremendous increment in women’s participation even in the so called nontraditional sectors for women like in rebellious armed combatants, militia, national army, public transport sector, foreign labor etc. Quite a large number of I/NGOs and international donors including UN especially UNDP and UNIFEM are working for women's development and their increased participation in nation building process.


Nepalese women in rural area of Nuwakot District listening about their rights from a activist. Photos courtesy: DidiBahini.Org

However, despite of all these efforts, women still are poorer with respect to income, assets and access to basic social services and public decision making. Gender disparities in human development, especially literacy, school enrolment, and life expectancy are major problems. Barriers to more equitable gender participation result from biases in formal institutions (e.g. property rights, inheritance laws, and labor laws) and informal barriers resulting from social norms and social practices. Women often suffer from harder manual chores in rural areas including heavy farm work, fetching water, livestock raising, fuel-wood collection and other labor intensive activities demanded by subsistence based economy.


Village women in Kavre. Photos courtesy: DidiBahini.Org

Women from the disadvantaged castes, the poor, rural and ethnic communities experience relatively higher levels of gender disparities, particularly in education and political participation. Gender roles continue to be stereotyped and women are generally viewed as a marginal group to be served under welfare programs. Greater inequality in terms of access to resources, benefits and power exists, based on class, caste, ethnicity and gender. Poverty inequality is more prevalent in rural and inaccessible areas, amongst “lower castes” and ethnic minorities and amongst poor women. Poor women have limited access to education, information, knowledge, skills and resources such as land which is the single most prized asset of Nepal’s subsistence rural economy. Landlessness in Nepal is one of the major indicators of poverty. Restricted mobility and increased burden of work are characteristic of women’s lives in Nepal.


Girl students in Bhaktapur. Photos courtesy: DidiBahini.Org

Past development policies in Nepal have generally failed to achieve the set objectives. The tradition of learning from experience is not firmly institutionalized. One central element in policy failure is the weak linkage between information and knowledge on the one hand, and public policy process on the other.

Governance is a composite function of the state, private sector and civil society. Poverty alleviation, gender equality and human development cannot be achieved unless these complement each other and work through collaboration and coordination. This would imply that the state creates a conducive political and legal environment; the private sector generates jobs and income; and civil society facilitates political and social transformation processes. In the Nepalese context, there is much to be done for promotion of civil society for gender equity, democratization and peace.

2. Peoples movement and advocacy for gender equality, conflict transformation and peace


Trainers Training on Peace and Conflict Transformation in Dhulikhel, Kavre. Photos courtesy: DidiBahini.Org

Historically Nepal has been a kingdom. A country governed by a king and his men at different hierarchical structures. A few evidences have been found where women were also in power but always as de-facto leaders. Several political movement and revolutions were initiated but always within the patriarchal structure. Therefore women have always been in subordination: SOCIALLY/CULTRALLY, ECONOMICALLY, POLITICALLY However there have been several reforms regarding women’s rights mostly related to their social economic welfare. Women have always been integral part of people’s movement and till date women’s movement is seen as off shoot of political movement.

For the first time women of Nepal formed national level women’s association with the major concern and demand for their education, employment and related welfare. The National level political parties started to recognize them as their sister organizations. Even during Party less Panchayat system the then government established a national level Nepal Women’s Organization as one of its national level associations’. During the underground political movement party’s sister organizations also had to suffer so members of the party affiliated women’s organizations started their social development and welfare oriented works through civil society organizations and NGOs. Women individually as well as groups and organization tremendously participated in the Jana Andolan (people’s movement) 1st in 1990.

However, the restated government and political culture could not accommodate women as partners than just recipients. NGO capacity building exercises, international exposure and collective movement extensively highlighted and advocated the issue. Beijing conference, BPFA was very much instrumental in bringing civil society and political party women in a common platform for common issue. Establishment of Women and Social welfare ministry and National Women’s Commission can be considered as collective achievement. A decade long advocacy campaigns for equal property right and bill on violence against women including anti trafficking bills can be taken as example.

Despite of all these hard work, patriarchy and gender stereotypes persisted everywhere including within the rebellious political party who claims to be the most egalitarian and progressive party in principles as well as in practice. However, we must recognize the fact that the decade long political conflict helped reveal several gender based discriminatory values and practices existing at all levels and sectors as the revolutionary groups had strong social and political agenda.

3. Observed outcomes of recent political processes and efforts for peace

 The changed role of women as head of households, political leaders, civil society actors/ members, human rights advocates, social mobilizers as well as combatatants demanded a huge social, cultural and political transformation in the country. However, women are not in decision making level even from household level , political parties to government level. Even though it was necessary to recruit more and more women fighters / army/ militia in the face of diminishing male fighting forces which has forever changed gender stereotypes but women were totally absent in all the major decision making including formal peace processes and peace negotiations in the country.

 Because of the persistent gender biases and severe discriminatory practices most young and dynamic women have been attracted by the revolutionary slogans and political movement of Maoist party in Nepal. It was said that more than 40% front line combatants of Maoist party ere girls and women. As a result 80% women elected from the direct CA election were young cadres of CPN Maoist party. And this also provides opportunity to mobilize women leaders with dynamic forces and from younger generation.

 More and more women activists, NGO workers and women members of different political parties are working in collaborated way to achieve gender equality at all levels and sectors of governance for which UNSCR 1325 and 1820 have been instrumental.

 With the strong people’s mandate from the movement political parties at present are obligated and pressurized to achieve women’s proportionate participation at all levels of their structures and processes.

 Therefore a special measure for proportional representation from all the different ethnic and geographical communities as well as at least 33% women was been adopted during the recent Constituent Assembly election.

 NGOs, I/NGOs, Donors. Women groups and Alliances at all levels worked very hard to disseminate information, build capacity of potential and existing women political leaders at all levels and sectors.


 Women forged for alliances at all levels and sectors including across the political parties and advocated with the government as well as political parties.

 To fight against the strong patriarchal mind set and behavior existing within political parties women members from different political parties initiated collective action through their All Political Party Women’s Alliance ( APWA)

 Net works like Shantimalika (national network of women for peace) Women’s Alliance for Peace, power and Democracy and Constituent Assembly (WAPPDCA) immerged and worked extensively in gender equality, social inclusion, peace and democratization process in the country.

As a result women’s movement achieved a historic victory by winning almost two third seats in the Constituent Assembly election. However only quantity is not enough unless there is a proportionate representation, participation and voice in all the different thematic committees being formed within the CA.

4. Opportunities

Women’s movement as a collective and collaborated movement of political and civil society groups has a great potentiality for collective and effective advocacy for the cause of gender equality and promotion of sustainable peace.

 Women’s agenda as a major political agenda and popular slogan for election
 International instruments like UN Security Council decision # 1325 and 1820,
CEDAW, BPFA etc
 Revolutionary party already mainstreamed into existing government so easier to include them in collective advocacy and their women leaders are critically aware and active regarding the urgency of gender equality for the sustainable peace.
 Even at present different rebellious and dissatisfied groups and fractions are demanding for proportional representation in Constituent Assembly.
 Political parties at critical situation as they have already made the popular commitment of gender equality and women’s proportional representation and participation at all levels and sectors of party structures and candidacy.
 Political parties in need of technical support to address the issue
 Parties bound to bring out women members as candidates
 Women members desperately need capacity building specially Knowledge, information , skills, attitude and practice
 NGOs and civil society organizations having mandate and capacity in training
 Ministry of Peace and reconstruction ( MOPR) is playing role of national machinery and national focal point of UNSCR 1325/1820
 MOPR is planning to prepare NPA on 1325/1820
 Both resolutions are being more visible, protective and useful base for women transitional justice in post-conflict scenario of Nepal

5. Challenges

 Priority of government in other political issues than peace process and implementation of UNSCR # 1325/ 1820
 Lack of knowledge and awareness about UNSCR 1325/ 1820 as well as commitment to gender equality among the political parties
 Even other UN agencies except UNIFEM seem to be indifferent in promoting UNSCR 1325 / 1820. Where as role of UNDP in developing national Action Plan of CEDAW and capacity building of local level women leaders was very crucial in the past and our organization was one of the prime drivers in the process.
 International and bilateral donors at present are interested and attracted to support the present government in implementing its regular development activities than promotion of gender equality and permanent peace. They are more into reconstruction work than transitional justice and peace issues which is critical.

6. Critical Questions and Issues

Therefore challenging questions in front of us today are

1. Are we happy with women’s participation only in constitution writing or meaningful participation at all levels of peace process and governance?

2. Is women’s quantitative representation is enough or qualitative participation is also important?

3- How will be the issues of transitional justice, reconciliation and reintegration (women victims ( rape/ sexual abuse/ disappearance/ at high risk occupations) addressed?

4. How will or should state deal with compensation and issue of house holds head in gender just distribution of benefits?

5.Is information dissemination and capacity building at all levels regarding implementation of UNSCR 1325/ 1820 a priority of State’s plan of action?

6. How will gender issues be addressed while integrating rebel combatants into national army?

7. How can gender equality and women’s equal and proportionate representation be ensured even within the federal system in future?

8. How can we sustain and gain from the opportunity created by the political processes, like awareness against existing gender based discriminations and violence, women’s intervention into nontraditional roles and sectors, emerging culture of collaborative and collective advocacy and actions etc?

7. Recommendations:

The following are the key recommendations for the enhancement of women's active participation in political decision making and peace building processes for which all the donor community especially UN ( UNDP, UN department of political affairs and the initiative for inclusive security, UNHCR, UNIFEM etc) should join hands with the national groups and networks.

• Massive advocacy is required to encourage government to establish different mechanisms and units to work for gender equality and women's empowerment to fulfill the obligations under CEDAW, BPFA and UNSCR 1325/ 1820

• Capacity Building in transitional justice, conflict transformation and peace building and mass mobilization are essential skills. A functional mechanism should be established for the training and continuous support for leaders and potential leaders.

• Development of IEC materials to provide information and support skills development for women in politics as well men in the political parties is needed.

• Advocacy and lobbying with the political parties regarding importance of women in governance and peace building.

• Effective networks and mechanisms at local, national and international level should be developed to bring about transformative and transformational political culture.

• Strategies and action to be initiated to achieve the ultimate goal to 50/50 or proportional representation in all the political and governance structures.

• In order to increase women's participation, creating a supportive environment is essential. Therefore massive advocacy campaigns should be launched throughout the country to sensitize people, politicians, administrators, judges and social activists including informal and religious leaders.

• Increment in women's access and control over economic resources is another important aspect. Therefore it is essential to create special educational and employment opportunities for women

• Utmost efforts should be made to increase the educational status of women in Nepal. In addition to formal education, a massive nation-wide Political Education should be launched focusing more on the local (community) level.

8. Conclusion

Since one half of the countries population consists of women, it is natural that they claim their rightful place in the society and governance system. A few women have already made their presence felt in such a male dominated field, however, they are made obliged to keep providing themselves to be better than their male counterparts, who have been traditionally into public life as their sole domain. Women in high positions are expected to be "super women" meeting demands of the job as well as fulfilling their traditional responsibilities of their families. Therefore the politics and the whole governance culture need to be transformed use power to innovate shared culture build community synergy and develop people with non hierarchical and participatory process that accords priority to the disadvantaged sections of the society. It should also be transformational to be more development oriented, gender responsive leading to build a society that is just and humane. In this respect role of international donors as well as the UN especially UNDP can play a very crucial role.

Before closing the presentation an open question to UN specially UNDP,

How can you support the initiatives on gender equality and peace building processes in Nepal?

Thank you!

Presented at
Supporting Women’s Participation in Decision Making Processes
United Nations Development Program
In partnership with
UN Department of Political Affairs and the Initiative for Inclusive Security
Millennium UN Plaza Hotel
NEW YORK

October 30- 2008


-Saloni Singh, Executive Chair, DidiBahini Nepal
 
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