Activists, Academics, Politicians, and Commission Members Discuss Women’s Issues
On 30th March 2022, the Inter-Generational Feminist Forum (IGFF) organized two -panel discussions on “Discrimination based on caste and gender during the election” and “Taking action to end violence against women and girls” in collaboration with Center for Dalit Women Nepal (CDWN). The panel discussions were organized on the occasion of International Women’s Day and International Day of Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination. Both panel discussions had three panelists each of which consists of a member of the house of Representatives, the National Dalit Commission, a representative of a political party, Nepal Police, Civil Society. A total of 75 of participants attended the program.
The first panel discussion was on “Discrimination Based on caste and gender during the election” was moderated by Ms. Rita Kumari Shah, co-coordinaror, IGFF. During the panel discussion, Hon. Meena Devi Sob, a Member of, the National Dalit Commission, highlighted the possibility of the disappearance of the identity of Dalit women with the decision of the alliance.
She further shared that female representatives have the capability and potential. However, the difficulty of adequately managing the financial resources of women Dalit candidates exists. Building on the previous anecdotes, she said that it has been evident of generating clashes among political parties using female representatives. Honorable Sob also emphasized changing the long-standing patriarchal norm building on “men disliking the hen crowing” to enable women to raise their voices. She expressed her commitment to fulfilling people’s hope from the National Dalit Commission.
The second-panel member, Hon. Pushpa Bhusal, Central Committee Member, Nepali Congress emphasized that the leadership of Dalit women is vital and not to be limited to mere participation. While the constitution has made provisions to end caste-based discrimination, the critical way forward is to ensure the implementation. At the same time, she highlighted the importance of female representatives taking additional steps to foster changes in their role in the political field and to win the general public’s trust. She shared that the involvement of women in policymaking is essential, and every general public issue should be taken as personal to attain human rights, reproductive rights, and married life rights. She explicitly pointed out the need to have dedicated constituencies for women during the election.
Ms. Gaura Nepali, General Secretary, Center for Dalit Women Nepal, the final panelist shared that female representatives experience discrimination while working in the political field. She emphasized the existence of fear among male politicians regarding the continuation of the leadership of the elected female representatives, now with five years of experience in political leadership. She doubts the full implementation of the electoral provision to guarantee a 40% quota of female elected representatives at all levels. Lastly, she urged that there is still an urgency to encourage women’s leadership, especially from marginalized communities.
The second-panel discussion was on Taking Action to End Violence Against Women and Girls was moderated by Ms. Sharu Joshi Shrestha, Coordinator, IGFF. The three panelists were Hon. Laxmi Pariyar, Member, Women and Social Welfare Committee, House of Representatives; Ms. Nirmala Bhattarai, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and Mr. Bamdev Gautam, Superintendent of Police, Metropolitan police. Hon. Pariyar highlighted the need to prioritize a dedicated budget to end violence against women and girls. She expressed her commitment to coordinating meetings between IGFF, CDWN, and political representatives.
Joint secretary Bhattarai mentioned that the Government of Nepal has ensured legal provisions to end violence against women and girls. However, the prevailing impunity has hindered the implementation of existing laws. She has requested to provide her the study on these issues so that she can present these cases to the higher authorities.
Mr. Gautam shared the limitation of the Nepal Police regarding direct outreach in social media and the limitations to registering cases from outside Kathmandu valley which is related to violence in cyberspace. He also emphasized the need to expand the crisis response center at the district level to avoid the current situation where survivors of violence are kept in police custody as a safer space.