NEPALI WOMEN Marching Ahead

Nepal Fares the Best in South Asia Women, Peace and Security Index

Dec. 10, 2017, 9:14 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL.11, No.10, December 08-2017 (Mangsir 22, 2074) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

When renowned women activist Bandana Rana launched Occupy Baluwatar four years ago demanding the protection of women rights, Nepal’s state of women was bleak with violence against women was rampant.

Five years after the efforts of the women activist like Bandana, the situation has changed much. The situation of women in Nepal is improving but activist like Rana, who has been elected as one of the 11 new members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), has still to do a lot on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 2bandanarana.jpg

As Nepal is celebrating 16 days International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women from 25 November, a recent study conducted by an institution shows that Nepal fares the best in the South Asia Women, Peace and Security Index.

Despite several legal safeguarding and other gender equality acts, violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations.

Over the years, Nepal has announced an inclusive constitution ensuring the rights of women and reserving 33 percent seats in the parliament. Women are given the right to property and violence against women is regarded as a several crime. Similarly, sexual harassment act protected women and girls.

Gender inequality persists worldwide. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms, as stated by the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

New Study

A nation's economic situation and state of political stability do not necessarily ensure gender parity or safety for women, a new index has concluded. Nepal has shown that the country can do much better even lack of political stability and higher growth.

Although Nepal is among the low growth country in the region with prolong political instability, the index indicated that Nepal’s situation of women and girls have seen dramatic improvement.

Countries were studied on three parameters to see how they fared in the Women, Peace and Security Index (WPSI). This index, developed by women's rights advocacy Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security in Washington, DC, looked at gender rights in terms of inclusion, security and justice.

 Nepal topped the south Asia list: its WPSI stands 42 places higher than its per capita income ranking. Afghanistan was at the bottom of the list. Women index.jpg

India was ranked seventh on the WPSI in south Asia. This list included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Countries were studied on three parameters to see how they fared in the Women, Peace and Security Index (WPSI). This index, developed by women's rights advocacy Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security in Washington, DC, looked at gender rights in terms of inclusion, security and justice.

The global average was 0.662. The WPSI score ranges from zero (the worst) to one (the best).

The best and worst in South Asia on legal discrimination were Maldives and Iran. On the question of men accepting a woman's right to work, Nepal performed the best and Pakistan the worst. Bangladesh ranked the highest on safety perceptions and Afghanistan the lowest. On intimate partner violence, Maldives and Bangladesh were the best and worst, respectively.

Cash-strapped, impoverished and politically unstable Zimbabwe topped when ranked by the gap between a country's WPSI and per capita income ranks, with its WPSI position 65 places better than its per capita income rank.

The difference between the two ranks will be less than zero for a richer country where women feel less secure, as in the case of India. The calculation works thus for India when we subtract its position on the WPSI (131) from its per capita income rank in the world 104 (104 – 131 = –27). In the case of nations like Zimbabwe, it will be a positive figure (135 – 70 = 65).

Saudi Arabia ranks the worst, ranked 89 places lower than its per capita income position (62 – 151 = –89).

As many as 57 countries ranked at least 10 places better on the WPSI than one per capita income. This included Nicaragua, Tajikistan, Serbia and Rwanda. And 52 countries, such as the United States, Brazil, China and Qatar, ranked at least 10 places worse. Beginning 2017, the index will be updated every two years, the WPSI report said.

"It is notable (that) top-performing countries… rank higher on the WPS Index than on their income per capita," the report said. "National income helps performance on the WPS Index, but the two is not always closely correlated."

The WPSI's assessment of inclusion covered economic, social and political factors. It looked at justice in terms of laws as well as informal discrimination. Security was defined at family, community and societal levels.

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