With the aim of strengthening and accelerating efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) by addressing the emerging challenges and pre-existing gaps that have been worsened by COVID-19, the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal (EU) has invested €0.7 million to launch a two-year project in Province 2 and the Karnali province. The project was launched today in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund and in coordination with the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens.
The project aims to ensure the provision of critical services for GBV survivors in seven municipalities and to support One Stop Crisis Management Centres, psychosocial services, and access to shelters amongst other immediate response services.
Reiterating that the protection of women and girls is a priority for the EU and that, in emergency settings, this can be a matter of life or death, Nona Deprez, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to Nepal, said: “The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities faced by women and girls. In particular, those who were already excluded are further marginalized and exposed to greater risks.” She added that addressing their needs was now more urgent than ever.
Highlighting that various harmful practices and GBV remain a pertinent problem in the community and that Province 2 has had the highest number of reported GBV cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dev Kumari Khatri, Chief of Social Development Division under the Ministry of Social Development, Province 2 said, “A holistic and integrated approach is required to address violence against women and girls.” She further confirmed that the provincial government wants to work with external development partners to end GBV.
As the pandemic has evolved, emerging data from actors on the frontline indicates that GBV has intensified across the country. In both Karnali and Province 2, COVID-19 infection rates and GBV incidents are high. A rapid assessment of the availability of GBV response services in the two provinces has also indicated serious gaps.
Karnali province remains far behind in terms of development with the continuing presence of many harmful and discriminatory practices and the lack of proper resources to combat such discrimination. Child marriage, domestic violence, early childbearing, and Chaupadi (isolating girls and women for the four days a month when menstruating) are some instances of the highly prevalent gender-based violence in the province for which, unfortunately, the provincial government has failed to allocate a gender-responsive budget.
Likewise, Province Number 2 has become more unsafe for women with increased cases of gender-based violence in recent years including accusations of witchcraft, child marriages, and son preference. In the last fiscal year, a total of 4,617 domestic abuse cases were registered with the authorities. Although the Chief Minister of the province has announced a campaign to ‘educate your girl to save her’, this has not been effective in controlling the occurrence of cases within the province.
It is notable that, while reporting during the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in June 2019, Dubravka Šimonović, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women commented that there were numerous shortcomings, including the persistence of harmful practices, that contradict the new legal framework which were preventing the elimination of violence against women and girls in Nepal. She also recommended ensuring sustainable funding for a sufficient number of safe shelters throughout the country to offer culturally sensitive accessibility for women with disabilities.
To stay up to date with funding opportunities for gender projects in Nepal visit the DevelopmentAid platform.