Dang (August 16, 2023) – Saathi started a significant initiative to advance gender-inclusive policies within the Lumbini province. Collaborating closely with local government officials and lawmakers, Saathi’s efforts are aimed at fostering transformative changes across provincial and community levels.

In a recent engagement held in Dang, Saathi facilitated a crucial dialogue with the government and lawmakers of Lumbini province. The organization strategically employed the CEDAW framework (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and leveraged concluding observations from international treaty bodies. The session, skillfully led by Saathi’s former president and incumbent CEDAW expert member, Bandana Rana, aimed to sensitize provincial leaders about pressing gender-related concerns.

Notably, members of the provincial assembly highlighted a perceived lack of cooperation from the federal government in facilitating new policies and legislations rooted in gender-responsive perspectives. This has led to a scenario where marginalized women, including Dalit and Kamalari communities, continue to face challenges despite changing political landscapes. The practice of token representation of women in decision-making roles has been identified as a major obstacle in achieving intersectional gender development in the region.

Among the issues addressed, cyber violence emerged as a significant challenge, aggravated by the absence of comprehensive legislation to address these modern forms of abuse. Furthermore, women in the region have been subjected to witchcraft accusations, underscoring the need for stronger legal safeguards and societal support mechanisms.

During the discussions, the lawmakers emphasized the importance of addressing the social and gender dimensions of remittance and foreign employment. They also stressed the necessity of reintroducing moral education and gender-sensitive curriculum in schools. Additionally, regulating alcohol production and distribution was identified as a means to mitigate violence against women and girls.

Women lawmakers within the province voiced concerns over the disparity between their involvement in law-making and the implementation of policies. They emphasized that consultation with women should extend beyond the formulation stage and be integrated into policy implementation. They also called for comprehensive gender sensitization efforts within the provincial assembly, highlighting the prevalence of patriarchal attitudes among lawmakers and government structures.

The Chief Minister of Lumbini province articulated a vision that transcends the immediate program, stressing the importance of incorporating the discussions into broader federal policies. He underscored the need for enhanced coordination between federal and provincial governments to ensure effective implementation.

The program, which witnessed the participation of 35 lawmakers, 4 ministers, and high-level government officials, brought together a total of 80 engaged participants. This impressive turnout reflects the growing commitment to addressing gender disparities and fostering an inclusive and equitable society.

Saathi’s unwavering advocacy and collaboration with provincial stakeholders mark a significant stride toward gender inclusivity. The hope is that these efforts will contribute to a more equal future not only within Lumbini province but also on a broader national level.