The 113th International Women’s Day (IWD) was marked amidst a variety of programmes across the globe today. This year the IWD’s theme is “DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, which calls for women access to digital technology for their empowerment. The national slogan for the day is “A strong foundation for gender equality: Expansion of women’s access to creative technologies”. On the occasion, the people from different walks of life, including political leaders, women activists and civil society members have stressed social, economic and cultural rights of women so that they live a life of dignity and happiness.
This is also a moment to protect the achievements made in the field of gender equality while generating awareness to further consolidate women’s role and contribution to nation building. Women, who represent around half of the total population of the country, have played their critical role in democratic evolution as well as social transformation of Nepali society. Still many things are yet to be done for their leadership development, equitable access and distribution of opportunities.
Nepali women have cherished history of struggles and accomplishments. They have fought shoulder to shoulder with their male counterpart for democracy, human rights and equality. The new constitution promulgated in 2015 has well recognised the contribution of women while incorporating many provisions for their uplifting. It has stated that women have rights to participate in all organs of the state based on the principle of proportionate inclusion. Likewise, it has stipulated that there should be different gender in the posts of President and Vice President. Every political party has to make sure that out of total elected members represented in the federal parliament, women must constitute one-third. There must be one woman in the post of Speaker or Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives. The national charter has made it mandatory for 40 per cent women’s participation at the local level and 33 per cent in the federal parliament.
Nepal has been a part of many international conventions and mechanisms, including Convention on the Elimination of all Form of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to promote women’s rights and meaningful participation in political, legal, economic and social spheres. Now women’s representation is 33.09 per cent in federal parliament and 36.36 per cent in Provincial Assemblies. In their messages delivered on the occasion, President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and other public figures have hailed Nepal's successes on women empowerment and gender equality are unique for the global women's movement. President Bhandari said that the main purpose of the gender equality was to create an environment that shares equal rights and responsibility towards the nation, society and family of women and men.
Prime Minister Prachanda has called for the need to intensify efforts to develop women's entrepreneurship and self-employment. It is a matter of satisfaction that Nepali women have access to parental property and get support from the state in legal remedy, income generation and career development. As the IWD's motto implies, women need digital education to fight bullying, harassment and trafficking that take place through various social networking sites. Technical skills enable them to increase their civic participation and awareness of their own situation in a society dominated by patriarchal mind-set. Focus should be given to a gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education. The digital media provides an appropriate platform for women to advance their cause. There are many pro-women policies, laws and regulations, which should be implemented in a coherent manner.