Nepal is ranked at 115th position out of 188 countries for gender equality. While this does not sound encouraging, we still stand above 73 countries at least, which would mean a relatively fair position.
Though urban areas of the country may be partially gender-sensitive we still live in a country where girls drop out of school as they reach higher grades, where child marriage is still prevalent, and where girls and women still do not have the authority to speak up and make decisions. Sustainable development thus depends largely on continuing to advocate for providing equal rights and platforms for women, be it in education, workspace, or elsewhere.
INGOs working in Nepal have adopted rights-based and gender-inclusive approaches in their programs for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women has always been the mandate of INGOs in Nepal. They strongly advocate to create awareness and where needed, reduce these inequalities. The Constitution of Nepal has provisions to ensure gender equality and social inclusion to bring women into the mainstream of development. The government of Nepal has placed gender inclusion at the forefront of the national agenda and also continues to highlight the need to improve the status of women in Nepal, thus working towards reducing inequalities. INGOs in Nepal, likewise, strive towards increasing this consciousness of gender inclusions and focus on a wide variety of resources and activities to support stakeholders, partners, and the communities they work in.
That said, these efforts are still not enough and there are areas where interventions are required to ensure gender equality and equity. We need to continuously speak to women and girls to educate them on their rights. We need to maintain gender balance by being conscious of gender inclusion at all times in representation at events, positions, leadership groups among others. We need to make work-life balance a priority and get more women into powerful and senior positions.
That’s because gender bias continues to create a barrier for women along with their struggle for equal opportunities. However, with continued lobbying and advocacy combined with the younger generation of bold and strong opinioned girls and women who do not fear to voice themselves, I believe that the next 10 years will be a better world for women. I believe that more actions will be taken by the government in implementing provisions of providing protection to women including equal pay for equal work and more women leaders in higher positions.
International Women’s Day is being marked today across the world, including in Nepal. In my view, Women’s Day should not be the only day to celebrate and appreciate. This should be a part of everyday life. One should not have to remind someone that women’s contributions need to be appreciated and that women need empowerment or inclusion. These should be a given. We all need to work together for the cause of “breaking the bias.”
Euden Koirala serves as Head of People and Organizational Development at WaterAid Nepal.