Nepal and its work on Gender in 2008 & 2009
by Samira Paudel
The mandate for Nepal office of
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) for the year 2008 & 2009 was focused on two
broad goals: Conflicts in Nepal are being tackled in a comprehensive & peaceful
manner and Democratic knowledge & initiatives in Nepal are consolidated. They
are also considered as the upper targets. Within these mandates, about 55 seminars
and workshops are organized in the fields of media, academia and trade unions
in achieving gender integration in all the activities. To be honest, we aim to
achieve as much as gender integration as possible. In a way, it is an effort to
seek an improvement in the quality and quantity of our works sensitive to the
open-minded politics of gender equality. Gender, youth and dalits are our cross-cutting
themes. There are exclusively women related projects run by women leadership.
Nepal itself and through its partner organization has already begun the journey
to civic education claiming to modify the previous examples of youth socialization.
This is our conscious effort to help change the Nepalese people into public, the
object into a leader subject so that institutions and public life remain equally
open to both women and men. Nepal's weak middle class, poor mediating agencies,
feudal and patriarchic values and informal economy offer no escape from the brutal
condition of underdevelopment and conflict. Creation of a framework of social
justice, inclusion and ownership of women, Dalits, Madhesis, Janajatis and workers
in the national initiatives and local economy is a must for their stake and participation
in the polity. The complex problem of the nation involved us to take up multi-themes
such as workers, women, Madhesis, Dalits, indigenous people, ethnic groups, youth,
media and civic education, state-building, peace, security and regional cooperation.
A combination of various approach for reflection, research and advocacy it has
adopted helped it to avert "friction" with national actors and make
its products and activities acceptable to all sides. Our product role of women
in Constituent Assembly, efforts towards the promotion of women and gender are
part of advocacy and educational materials used by all national institutions -
the state, civil society and donors. There is also one chapter on women in civic
education book FES prepared for 10+2 students and subscribed by schools which
stresses on gender equality.
of Past and Present
The 1990 Constitution
of Nepal committed at least 5% women in lower house and 3 seats were reserved
for women in the 60 member upper house. The local bodies reserved 20% seats for
women. The interim constitution aims for 33% representation of woman in all spheres.
All major political parties have reserved 33% seats for women as a result we have
33% women CA members to write a new Constitution. We have around 200 women members
among 601 CA members at present. The constitution of Nepal and Nepalese commitments
to various human rights instruments predict the creation of open and democratic
society based on freedom and social justice. These documents form a part of our
political consciousness, which focuses more on the freedom of Nepalese women from
the privatized life and opportunity to participate in pubic sphere. It refers
to the inclusion of women, and the implementation of basic human rights by means
of removing all barriers to their self-fulfillment. A shift from women's promotion
to gender studies has now become a central concern in redefining gender and sex
in various discussions and interactions which forecasts women's fulfillment.
has been constructed differently in various historical periods. It virtually underwent
social revolutions with the change in human awareness and the nature of power
and political economy. The images of men and women in the mass media, schools
and universities, carried during different periods of history, clear the fact
that ideas and ideologies have also played key roles in socialization, cultural
formation and voice and visibility. Any discussion on gender thus invites a global
and national sense of responsibility towards addressing the complaints derived
from exclusion, inequality and injustice. To make Nepalese politics more and more
democratic, it requires the involvement of larger groups of people, including
women and the other oppressed groups in public life for the realization of their
constitutional and human rights and aspiration for emancipation. Nepalese women
are, therefore, looking for a more conscious life, a life that puts the mind open
to historical imagination and experience of their present condition, equal opportunity
and equal outcome. The social movements of women in Nepal and their supporters,
therefore, aim to seek transformation in structure and political culture. FES
is intervening positively in policy debate and advocacy and encouraging partner
organization to increase women's participation in their organizational structure.
In the year 2008, our partners
were non-government organizations, government think tank, university institutions,
and trade unions. Since we are dealing with the policy makers it is very tough
to maintain the gender balance due to lack of resources in every aspect. Especially
on security, foreign policy, civil-military we have encouraged women to participate.
In soft themes such as civic education and trade union we have maintained a balance
in gender participation. In the year 2008, FES provided support to women communicators
group on enhancing women's role in mediation, local conflict resolution and peace.
FES every year supports Women for Human Rights (WHR) to work on rehabilitation
of conflict-victim women, provide the organization network and empower them in
political, social and economic participation. Another is Modern Multiple Girls
Campus where our support is extended in organizing seminar on topical themes including
women's role in peace building, health education, constitution making and leadership
Empowerment as an ultimate
How is gender equality achieved?
One is redefining the concept of power in the real context, its use and beneficiaries
especially women. All knowledge is rooted in power relations of inequality, including
that knowledge, which shapes social life, institutionalizes patriarchy and legitimizes
the cultural formation. The other is mutual understanding of roles by both male
and female members of society. How power springs up and whom does it belong to
depends very much on how its balance is changed for the benefits of both men and
women. Because here power is regarded as a mean to the empowerment of male and
female. And empowerment is related to various measures of capacity building to
participate effectively in every aspect of life. In other words, capacity building
means providing essential resources and power for development to those who need
them the most. Gender clearly comes into the agenda of this discourse.
our context, FES's policy to integrate the concept of gender in most of its activities,
especially media, trade unions and democracy and development projects is a response
to our national and global imperative. The foundation behind it is to make the
future of women more and more open and predictable than letting the "backwardness
of past determine their future". Without this, neither democracy can be achieved
nor peace can be just and sustainable, not even real, durable and sustainable
social contract is negotiated for a sustainable future.