International Women’s Day: Celebrating women in leadership in Nepal

International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate not only the progress made towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment but also to critically reflect on those accomplishments and strive for greater momentum in working towards these goals worldwide. It is a day to recognize the extraordinary acts of women and to stand together, as a united force, to advance gender equality around the world.

To celebrate this day, UNESCO collaborated with the Kaka Community Learning Centre and the Balara Municipality to organize a speaking contest for high school-level female students on the theme “Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. In addition to the persistent preexisting social and systemic barriers to women’s participation and leadership, new barriers have emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic. A morning rally, Pravat Feri, was also organized, displaying various motivating and inspiring slogans on the aforementioned theme.

On this occasion, UNESCO also collaborated with the Human Rights Film Focus Nepal to launch a radio series “Youth Speakout”, a national student initiative on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). Students and educators were invited to join in this advocacy by sharing evidence-based, informed, and empathetic speeches, then filming and sharing them among their peers, family, and the local community, as well as the wider online community. The best speeches will be chosen and then broadcast through 21 FM radio stations in all seven provinces of the country.

UNESCO also documented the stories of four women Deputy Mayors who are paving the way for a gender-equal world here in Nepal: Kunti Saud Budha (Deputy Mayor of Khaptad Chededaha Rural Municipality, Bajura), Birmala Devi Budhthapa (Deputy Mayor of Sanphebagar Municipality, Achham), Anshu Singh (Deputy Mayor of Raj Devi Municipality, Rautahat), and Sabina Chaudhary (Deputy Mayor of Ramdhuni Municipality, Sunsari). Following their participation in a UNESCO-UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme training on gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), and the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, these four women are now speaking up to ensure that future generations of young women are empowered through education.