Today, the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal and the United Nations Population Fund, in coordination with the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens and relevant provincial and local authorities, launched a two-year project to tackle gender-based violence (GBV) in Province 2 and Karnali.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to put women and girls at increased risk of GBV, the project will ensure the provision of critical services for GBV survivors in 7 municipalities. The project will support One Stop Crisis Management Centers (OCMC), psycho-social services, and access to shelters, amongst other immediate response services. Working hand in hand with public and non-state actors, the project will strengthen and accelerate efforts to prevent and respond to GBV by addressing the emerging challenges and pre-existing gaps worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“GBV continues to remain a major barrier in the government’s ongoing efforts to materialize its motto of Happy Nepali and Prosperous Nepal. Various reports have revealed that COVID-19 has worsened further the situation of GBV in Nepal and also globally. Additional and collaborative efforts from all sides is the need of the hour to control GBV,” said Dal Rawal, Minister for Social Development, Karnali Province. “I am happy to learn that the EU has provided financial contribution to UNFPA Nepal to implement the two-year project, which aims at enhancing effectiveness of the OCMCs, among other support, to end GBV in Province 2 and in Karnali Province. On behalf of the Government of Karnali Province, I wish all the best for the success of the project.”
"Various harmful practices and gender-based violence remain a pertinent problem in the community. Data shows that Province 2 has the highest number of GBV cases reported during COVD-19,” said Dev Kumari Khatri, Chief of Social Development Division under the Ministry of Social Development, Province 2. “A holistic and integrated approach is required to address violence against women and girls. Thus the provincial government wants to work with external development partners in ending GBV."
National statistics paint a grim picture of GBV in the country, with one in five women aged 15 to 49 experiencing physical violence since the age of 15, and at least one in four married women subjected to physical, sexual, or emotional violence by their partner. Other harmful practices such as early marriage disproportionately affect women, where 40% of women nationwide were married by age 18, compared with 11% of men in 2016, despite the legal age of marriage for both sexes being 20 years. As the pandemic has evolved, emerging data from actors on the front line indicates that GBV has intensified across the country. In both Karnali and Province 2, COVID-19 infection rates and GBV incidents are high. A rapid assessment of the availability of GBV response services in the two provinces has also indicated serious gaps.
“Protection of women and girls is a priority for the EU and in emergency settings this can be a matter of life or death”, stated Nona Deprez, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to Nepal. “The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities faced by women and girls. In particular, those who were already excluded are further marginalized and exposed to greater risks. Addressing their needs is more urgent than ever.”
The project, financed by the EU with 700,000 Euros, comes at a time when the resilience of the social sector and its ability to protect women and girls from different forms of violence and deliver justice for survivors has been brought into sharp focus.