By Usha Wagle Gautam
The Nepalese Women Society-Qatar (NWS) marked the International Women’s Day last weekend with a programme at the Grand Qatar Palace hotel.
The programme was chaired by Rekha Rai, the president of the society. Founding vice president of Sagarmatha Welfare Society Bhagbati Nepal was the chief guest. Guests included non-resident leader Binesh Tamang and Francesca Ricciardone, Gulf Region Director of American Solidarity Center. More than 200 Nepalese expats attended the programme.
Bhagabati Nepal presented a paper on the latest condition of Nepalese women in the programme. Starting her presentation, she said social gender is distinct from biological sex categories, and stressed that gender inequality was created by social structures. She said that for sustained national development, equal and meaningful participation of both genders is important.
She pointed out that gender-based, class-based, and ethnicity-based disparities have been prominent in the geographically-, religiously- and ethnically-diversified Nepal for a very long time.
Domestic violence, Bhagabati said, continues due to patriarchal family structure. She said Nepalese women started fighting for equal rights prior to 1950s and succeed in acquiring universal suffrage after the movement of 1951.
But the struggle is still far from over. Women representation in the current legislature in Nepal is 26.28 percent. Just 3 percent of women make up the Nepalese army, and 7.5 percent account for the country’s police force.
Bhagabati said that the Revolution of 2006 was a milestone for Nepalese women pursuing equal rights. A recently promulgated statute of the Himalayan nation makes the provision to have an elected president or vice-president, and one woman speaker or vice-speaker in the federal parliament. The law also stipulates 33 percent representation for women on all government bodies.
She also talked about the social, economic and political structures that need revision to make the country women-friendly. “Income generation programmes are necessary for women; so government and non-government bodies should introduce such programmes for women to help them become independent.”
Francesca Ricciardone said that it was her second time celebrating the International Women’s Day with Nepalese women in Qatar. She said one should ponder deeply over women rights and universal human rights while celebrating the day. A workers’ right advocate, Ricciardone said she is watchful to the labour rights of both, women and men.
NWS president Rekha Rai said the main purpose of her organisation is to bring all Nepalese under the same umbrella and work for their welfare.
NWS honoured Ricciardone for her work for labour rights, justice, and human rights. The organisation also felicitated Bhagabati Nepal for her effort to stop human trafficking, and her support to street and orphaned kids of Nepal.
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