The National Gender Equality Policy made public on the occasion of this year's International Women's Day strives to institutionalise a gender responsive governance system in all the three tiers of government through gender-responsive budget and establishment of equitable, prosperous, and just society.

The policy, which was recently approved by the Council of Ministers is consistent with the constitution. According to Article 38 of the constitution, every woman shall have equal lineage right without gender-based discrimination.

Similarly, the constitution guarantees women's right to participate in all bodies of the state on the basis of the principle of proportional inclusion, and get opportunity in education, health, employment and social security.

The policy says that the government will remove discriminatory barriers to the socio-economic development of women, children and adolescent girls; end gender-based violence; adopt gender-responsive governance system; and achieve economic empowerment of women. It has also treated the chhaupadi system as gender-based violence as many menstruating women and girls are still prohibited from participating in normal family activities.

"In order to carry out these objectives, the government will implement the fundamental rights of women and the relevant laws in an effective manner; conduct social awareness programmes; bring about consistency among the federal, provincial and local laws; develop gender-friendly family and society; and enforce the policy of zero-tolerance against gender-based violence," the policy reads.

Likewise, the policy requires the government to adopt gender-responsive strategies while making policies, plans and laws; empower women to ensure their access to all the bodies of the state; increase the participation of women in income-generating activities; reduce business and social risk in economic activities of women; and ensure their equal representation at the decision-making levels.

According to the policy, more women will be engaged in boosting the national economy by conducting a separate economic survey in a bid to realise their contribution to the prosperity of the nation. For this, exclusive skill development programmes will be conducted for women. Women entrepreneurship fund will be promoted and mobilised.

Nepal is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly and it has necessitated formulation and implementation of this policy.

The policy also envisages promoting gender equality from the basic school level by incorporating this subject in the curricula, while also establishing and operating rehabilitation houses for women and children affected by violence.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.