KATHMANDU: The flagship event of SheDecides Day 2019 concluded in Kathmandu with a firm commitment from participants to advance the movement in their home countries, and plans taking shape in Nepal to build local momentum.

Inaugurating the event, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Population Updendra Yadav, on behalf of the government, expressed a commitment to promote sexual and reproductive health and family planning to all women, stated a press release issued today by SheDecides. DPM Yadav called on all stakeholders to stand up and speak out in every possible way they can in order to make sure a woman and a girl can decide about her body, her life and her future.

The event attracted around 200 participants representing governments, civil society, the development community and youth organizations from the Asia-Pacific region, alongside global leaders of the movement, the statement read.

“Nepal has good laws and policies to allow women and girls to exercise their human rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Now we will focus on more the implementation of these laws and policies,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.

The participants discussed how they stand up and speak out on the rights of women and girls to decide about their bodies; explored plans to change the laws, rules and social norms that stand in the way of women’s autonomy; and to unlock the necessary resources to make it a reality.

Co-hosted by ARROW and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the SheDecides Day flagship event received support from the Government of Nepal and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as well as ARROW’s local partner in Nepal, the Beyond Beijing Committee.

Executive Director of ARROW, and global SheDecides Champion, Sivananthi Thanenthiran said, “SheDecides is an important movement for countries in Asia-Pacific including Nepal.  The Asia-Pacific region, where we work, is home to 60% of the world's people and women. Nearly 42% of maternal deaths - 139,550 women die yearly from pregnancy and child birth related causes – happens in our region.”

“Much work needs to be done to improve women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. But when we combine our voices and our strengths and stand together, we can help create a world where every girl and woman can decide what to do with her body, with her life and with her future. Without question.”

IPPF Director General Alvaro Bermejo expressed his excitement that IPPF was co-host to the event, saying: “It signifies the coming together of diverse personalities and organizations to support a movement for a world where every woman owns the right to do what she chooses with her body, her life and her future. A world that is better, stronger and safer. This is one of the first global SheDecides events in Asia, and recognises the significant progress and pro-rights SRHR environment enabled by the Government of Nepal.”

The SheDecides movement was launched two years ago. Within this period, it has rapidly evolved from a hashtag to a one-day conference, into a global political movement driving change, fuelled by community action, and with young people at its heart, reaching 183 countries, with over 120,000 individuals and organisations. Its principles are grounded on the Programme of Action that emerged from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

“ICPD was a genuine revolution. Despite this agreement, millions of women and girls have yet to see these promises fulfilled. We must accelerate efforts to realize the reproductive health and rights of all people, everywhere – and especially women and girls,” said UNFPA Regional Director Bjorn Andersson.  “The SheDecides movement is so crucial to the success of ICPD.”