Minister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi stated that gender-biased sex selection (GBSS) in favour of sons is a manifestation of gender inequality that is deeply embedded in our society by tradition, culture, religion, social, economic and legal injustices that undervalue girls and women.

Minister Tripathi said this while addressing the High-Level Inter-Ministerial Dialogue on scaling up action to end son preference and GBSS, on Friday night. The programme was organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with the European Commission and Norwegian government.

The virtual dialogue was a side event as part of the High Level Forum on Commission on Status of Women.

"There is positive legal framework in Nepal such as the Constitution of Nepal, Civil Code, Penal Code, and Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Rights Act, but despite constitutional and legal guarantees ensuring gender equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex and gender, Nepali women face discrimination in various walks of life," the minister noted.

He added, "GBSS is across all cultures and religions and is coupled with traditions like dowry, and laws around inheritance which undervalue girls."

A UNFPA study has confirmed 12 hotspot districts in the country where Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) is imbalanced. There is a strong pressure on women to bear a son which hampers her right to choice, health, and may even lead to violence.

Laws and positive legal framework alone cannot address this multi-dimensional issue and requires us to holistically understand that unless there is equal value of girls and boys socially and economically, this cannot be addressed, the Minister said said. "Controlling the technology used as a tool for sex selection and restricting laws against abortion would only perpetuate further victimisation of women."

Minister Tripathi said Nepal is proud of its achievement on the development of National Strategy on GBSS. "This strategy is an important step towards efforts to meet the needs of Sustainable Development Goals Targets and associated indicators."

He asserted that his ministry is committed to work with other line ministries in implementation of the strategy towards addressing the root causes of GBSS, in a bid to eliminate discrimination against girls and women in all sectors.