U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine M. Russell emphasized the U.S. government’s commitment to preventing gender-based violence and advancing gender equality during her four-day trip to Nepal February 7-11. Ambassador Russell heard from several civil society groups about the challenges girls and women face, including trafficking in persons, dowries, child marriage, schools without toilet facilities and others. Ambassador Russell also visited a USAID-supported health program for new mothers and their babies in Dhulikhel and traveled to Janakpur to meet with female community leaders and students.
While meeting with organizations that are working to stop gender-based violence, Ambassador Russell said, “This form of violence often seriously jeopardizes both the mental and physical health of women and girls. Addressing gender-based violence is not just a moral issue but also a security, public health, and economic one. The results of this violence have significant direct and indirect economic costs for women, their families, their communities, and the nation.”
Women’s entrepreneurship groups shared their successes in the pashmina, handicraft, tourism and agricultural sectors with Ambassador Russell. Several female entrepreneurs who have recently attended U.S.-funded exchange programs and workshops shared their plans to grow their businesses. Ambassador Russell underscored how important women’s economic participation is to overall economic growth.
Female members of the new Constituent Assembly, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare officials and the Janakpur Chief District Officer briefed Ambassador Russell about the challenges facing women, government efforts to improve female political participation, and access to education. Ambassador Russell also spoke with several civil society groups and the government about their anti-trafficking efforts.