UN body lauds Nepal gender reforms

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In its first major report, UN Women—the United Nations’ young entity that focuses on the empowerment of women and girls—has highly praised Nepal for its “notable legal reforms” in the field of gender equality and “hence setting an example not only to the region but also to developed nations.”

Women experts and rights activists, however, have warned of challenges in fully translating laws that exist on paper into equality and justice.

The report, which incorporates a case study on Nepal regarding women related legal frameworks,

said that the reforms over the past two decades in the country

have ensured greater economic security for women, protecting them from violence, safeguarding their sexual and reproductive rights and amplifying their voices in decision-making.

Nepal is one of the few countries that has surpassed 30 percent reservation for women in parliament and the reservation has helped maintain a consistently high profile for gender equality issues, the report released here on Thursday by the Assistant Secretary General of UN Women, Lakshmi Puri, said.

‘Progress of the World’s Women 2011-12: In Pursuit of Justice’ also spoke highly of the legal provisions of tax exemption for plots of land registered in a woman’s name. Nepal introduced a 10 percent tax exemption aiming to drive the implementation of laws on property and inheritance in 2008 which has been subsequently increased to 25 percent in cities and 30 percent in rural areas. As a result, between 2001 and 2009, women’s land ownership increased threefold.

Explicit criminalisation of marital rape, the provision of children getting citizenship through their mothers and the Gender Equality Act—which gave married women the right to keep inherited property, entitled women to use property without the consent of male family members and expanded divorce rights—have also been instrumental in women’s empowerment, the report said.

Nepal has also made a considerable leap on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women, it said.

The maternal mortality rate nearly halved between 2001 and 2006, in part attributed to the increased availability of safe abortion and reproductive health services. Nepal has also been a top mover in the Human Development Index with some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) easily achievable within 2015. Commenting on the report, lawmaker and women rights activist Sapana Malla Pradhan said, “Despite progressive laws, many challenges remain as Nepal still has a long way to go when it comes to translating the promises into substantive equality for all women and girls.”

Though the past century has seen a transformation in women’s legal rights with countries expanding the scope for women’s legal entitlements, the report, however, warned that discriminatory laws and critical gaps in legal frameworks continue to be a problem in every region. “Governments are responsible for providing a functioning and accessible justice system, but too often they fall short, with major institutional barriers denying women’s access to justice, “ the report added.

It has come up with 10 recommendations—including the need to support women’s legal organisations, one-stop shops and specialised services to reduce attrition in the justice chain, implementing gender sensitive law reform, using quotas to boost the number of women legislators and putting women on the front line of law enforcement—in making justice systems work for women. The report also underscored the urgency of women’s participation in post-conflict situations, starting with peace negotiations to reconciliation processes.



Website:- http://www.ekantipur.com/2011/07/08/top-story/un-body-lauds-nepal-gender-reforms/336986.html



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