A nation cannot prosper, cannot reach its full potential unless girls and women are empowered economically, politically and are free from any kind of violence. The United Nations Secretary-General at the General Assembly stated that: ‘empowerment and rights of women must be at the heart of everything we do. The equation is simple: when women’s lives are free from violence and discrimination, nations thrive. Let the 21st century be the century of women.’
Violence against women and girls remains the most pervasive human rights violation, which prevents countries achieve gender equality, human rights, peace and security, and internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
The Government of Nepal has made a number of commitments at the international level to end violence against women and girls by ratifying international human rights instruments, including the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Earlier this year, Nepal agreed to a global roadmap of actions, adopted at the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The Government is finalizing an action plan to address the CSW Agreed Conclusions, and will facilitate a coordinated response to address violence against women and girls effectively and efficiently. This should strengthen the implementation of the Government of Nepal’s existing five year Strategy and National Plan of Action related to Gender Empowerment and Ending Gender Based Violence and the National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820. These plans set concrete goals for zero tolerance for violence against women, establishing one stop crisis management centres for the protection of survivors/victims, gender mainstreaming in economic and social development programmes, and ensuring greater access to justice through free legal aid and fast track courts. They also provide an institutional mechanism to assist women and girls in reporting acts of violence.
In Nepal, violence against women and girls remains widespread in Nepal and occurs with impunity. According to the 2011 Nepal Demographic Health Survey, 22 per cent of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence at least once since age 15, and 9 per cent experienced physical violence within the 12 months prior to the survey. One in ten women reported having experienced sexual violence.
The UN system in Nepal is fully committed to support the Government of Nepal and civil society in concrete actions to realize the rights of all women and girls, allowing them to live lives free of violence. This must include enforcing relevant laws to end impunity, making justice accessible to women and girls by revisiting rape laws and providing free legal aid and specialised services; recognising survivors of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence as a category of conflict-affected persons and ending impunity for conflict-related sexual violence; and ensuring access to a comprehensive package of support services. Legal and policy changes must be accompanied with the effective implementation of outstanding commitments and action plans. Adequate public resources must be made available to implement laws, policies and services, supported by detailed budget. Most importantly, enhancing women’s economic empowerment should form a key focus of efforts to end the violence, and mobilizing men, boys and young people to take a strong stance on violence against women and girls and act as agents of change is crucial to efforts to transform the structural foundations of the violence. Finally, the Government must include ending violence against women and girls as an essential target in any goal on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda.
As the Secretary-General highlights in his statement for 25 November 2013, ‘This International Day to End Violence against Women is an opportunity for all people to recommit to preventing and halting all forms of violence against women and girls.’