Call to build back better and more equal Nepal

Kathmandu, March 9

Speakers at a programme today said Nepal now had a golden opportunity to reconstruct the country in an inclusive and gender-friendly manner.

Speaking at a discussion programme ‘Building Back Better and Safer for Gender Equality’ in Kathmandu, Australian Ambassador to Nepal Glenn White said, “Experience has shown that in every natural and man-made disaster, it is women and their children who are at the most risk and vulnerable.

At this historic time for Nepal, it is an opportunity to revitalise the social engineering, which not only seeks to protect women, but which enables their rightful inclusion into the debate about how things should and will change.

Their voices must be heard now and into the future,” he said.

Ambassador White expressed the Australian government’s commitment to promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and girls through partnership, diplomacy and Australian overseas aid program with a focus on micro-enterprise development and educational support.

The discussion, followed by screening of videos produced by UN Women and Sancharika Samuha respectively and a presentation by Bimala Rai Paudel, former NPC member, explored how the April/May earthquakes last year affected women more than men and focused on better ways to address gender equality issues in the reconstruction process.

A panel of experts, including Commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission Mohna Ansari, Chief Executive Officer of National Reconstruction Authority Sushil Gyawali, special ambassador for Reconstruction and Development and president of Non Resident Nepali Association Shesh Ghale and senior vice-president of FNCCI Bhawani Rana pledged to put in efforts from their level for national reconstruction.

They also answered several queries related to gender issues.

Stressing on gender-friendly reconstruction process, Nirmala Sharma, president, Sancharika Samuha Nepal, said there was still a wide gap between policy and its implementation. “Our field observations tell stark stories of deprivation.

Nursing mothers and children, for instance, are living a veritable nightmare. The ongoing reconstruction drive should take ground realities into account and target gender-friendly infrastructure and awareness initiatives in earthquake-affected districts,” she said.

Similarly, Country Representative for UN Women Nepal, Ziad Sheikh, said, “As the country embarks on its journey of recovery and reconstruction, it has a historic opportunity and a moral imperative to build back a better, safer and more equal Nepal for all its people.”

He said women specific needs must be addressed and their skills and knowledge harnessed in the design, planning, decision-making and implementation of all relief, recovery and reconstruction work.

“Not only do Nepal’s women have the right to be equal partners in their country’s reconstruction, without them a resilient and inclusive Nepal will simply not be possible,” he added.

He expressed UN Women’s commitment to support vulnerable groups of women.