PROYEL IN IWD 2023: Gender Equality And Empowerment Through DigitALL

The European Union and Helvetas Nepal-funded PROYEL (Promotion of Youth Engagement in Local Government Process) reached out to the young women on its Youth Panel by sharing the experiences of three members of the Youth Sounding Board. PROYEL's focus was on the theme of International Women's Day 2023 (IWD). Since one of the objectives of the PROYEL is to inform, educate, engage and involve Nepali young in local government processes, expanding access to digital innovation is crucial to the project's success. Using digital technologies and tools can hasten empowerment and equality. The PROYEL initiative hopes to connect its youth panel with members of the Youth Sounding Board through the podcast and spread the IWD message of DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality

March 8, 2023, 10:45 a.m.

While hailing from three distinct provinces, regions, and academic backgrounds, Namuna Giri (Rukuk East, Karnali Province), Sonali Singh Patel (Madhesh Province), and Neha Karki Sudur Pashim Province all share a similar understanding of how to use digital technology to hasten the inclusion, equality, and empowerment of young women.

Moderated by Bindu Sharma, GESI Officer at HELVETAS-Nepal, Giri, a law student, Patel, a graduate of Forestry, and Karki, a graduate of mass communication, come from three different academic backgrounds and professions. They do, however, agree that digital technology can be used to increase young women's access to local government and empower them.


Connecting three members with PROYEL's youth network is significant because the Youth Sounding Board aims to create a real, fundamental, and long-lasting change in how the EU engages with young people in development cooperation in Nepal.

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Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, stated during a recent trip to Nepal that empowering young people is a high priority. The EU thinks that young people need to be involved in planning and carrying out its development policies.

Making an effort to integrate young women into society is a good step in this context. Nona Deprez, the EU ambassador to Nepal, emphasized in her message to the podcast the necessity of more actively of youth and young.

In her message to podcast link for full visual statemnet, European Union Ambassador to Nepal Nona Deprez said, “I am so pleased to have our Youth Sounding Board members engage in this project with Helvetas. I am really excited to learn about their experiences as a woman in the Nepal’s digital space.” Click for excerpt of the statement

In a podcast hosted to commemorate IWD 202 under a theme Bridging the Gap: Young Women in Digital Spaces, they made the case that access to digital technology and innovation may significantly improve the quality of life for women while also defending their rights and expanding their participation in politics and the economy.

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"I am a young woman from Rukum East who came here to get my legal degree. What I've come to know is that using social media platforms like Linkden, Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube Live gives you the chance to live honorably. I have been actively using these social media platforms in addition to working toward my diploma to spread information and opportunities around," said Giri, who is one of the active members of the Youth Sounding Board which is set up by the European Union to herd the voices of youth in policies and planning.

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Digital media, particularly social media, are useful methods to reach rural young women, according to Neha Karki, who has a Master's degree in media studies and is currently working on a nutrition-related project. "There is enormous potential to empower and improve access to rural to digital technology and improve their access in health, education and other services provided by local levels," Karki stated in her presentation.

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In addition to working in the fields of disaster risk reduction and forest resource management, Patel has made numerous trips to rural Madhesh Pradesh. Sne makes use of social media and digital platforms to avert disasters and save lives. Women are more susceptible to all forms of calamities and are more likely to be the targets of social and economic discrimination, according to Patel. Increased access to the internet and digital technology might help hundreds of women survive a crisis, she continued.

In his video address to podcast, Dr. Prabin Manandhar, the Country Director of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Nepal, said, “Women are strong in every sense. You are a believer, dreamer, doer and achiever. Simply you are amazing. This is how you encourage inspiring all of us. Well, as we move forward, we need more women in technology. Technology is advancing in this world in which we live. It is a gate way for public spaces, knowledge, skills and market with potential for enhancing women’s voices their participation and network in economic activities. This is where we see women have no limits to accomplish by using digital tools and technologies. So let, connect then and so empower women and girls.” Link

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PROYEL was established with the intention of concentrating on 80 youth organizations, 8 local governments, 85 ward committees, 30 schools, and 4 local media with the purpose of promoting access to service delivery through young involvement in local governance. PROYEL is currently reaching a larger segment of the populace. By connecting Patel to local Youth Panel members, effective early warning systems and post-disaster situations like rescue and recovery would be substantially aided.

Digital Access

Three members of the Youth Sounding Board (YSB) said in a half-hour podcast that there are many reasons to be optimistic about empowering women and expanding their access to social, economic, and political institutions through the use of innovation and broadly accessible digital technology.

With a total population of 30.72 million in January 2023, Nepal has a population distribution that is over 55 percent between the ages of 13 and 44 and over 32.4 percent between the ages of 18 and 34. Among those, women make up 52.1% of the population of Nepal.

According to Digital Portal, a website, there were 15.85 million internet users in Nepal at the beginning of 2023, with internet penetration at 51.6 percent. Similarly, Nepal had 12.60 million social media users, accounting for 41.0 percent of the total population. Similarly, 42.78 million cellular mobile connections were active in Nepal in early 2023, accounting for 139.2 percent of the total population.

Given the current state of digital media and innovation in the country, the optimism and hope for change expressed by moderator Bindu Sharma and three young women Giri, Patel, and Karki are valid.

There were 14.87 million people who did not use the internet at the beginning of 2023, even though the number of internet users has dramatically expanded, and the vast majority of these people are women.

"Although widely available, digital technology and the internet are inaccessible to the vast majority of women. Since they rely on their husbands and don't own mobile devices, men are frequently the recipients of information distributed by digital technology.” According to Karki, the women feel uneasy and vulnerable.

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Facilitated the program with occasional intervention to make the discussion lively, Sharma posed several wide ranges of questions including ending the digital divide.

All three participants, Nanuna Giri, Sonali Singh Patel, and Neha Karki, were experts in their fields and worked tirelessly to develop strategies and programs to bridge the digital divide.

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Patel agrees with Karki on the issue of ownership. “Simply increasing internet access and the availability of digital technology in rural areas will not make a difference. Nothing can happen as long as women do not have sole ownership of such digital tools," Patel explained.

With 12.60 million users of social media in Nepal as of January 2023, or 41.0% of the country's total population, the bulk of these users is young. In general, 79.5 percent of Nepal's internet users in January 2023 used at least one social networking site.

The research found that 56.4 percent of social media users in Nepal were men and 43.6 percent were women. The population of Nepal is 24.3 years old on average. 67.3 percent of people are thought to have at least one bank account. Compared to other age groups, young and middle-aged people are more likely to use financial technologies.

Given this context, efforts to use digital technology and innovation to empower women, eliminate disparities, and increase access in various sectors are critical.

PROYAL is also working to expand the network of development partners focusing on youth empowerment covering project areas and outside. For this, the project is coordinating with the Federal, Provincial and Local governments to establish youth centers or youth councils at all levels.

Social media, a commonly used digital invention, will be an effective medium in this situation.

Digital Impacting

The way individuals think, act, interact, and operate in different contexts has been substantially changed by technology. Collaboration between practitioners, researchers, and policymakers are required to fully utilize information and communication technology (ICT) for promoting gender equality and social inclusion, sustainable development, and other goals, according to Dr. Prabin Manandhar, Country Director of Helevetas Nepal.

The podcast's lectures have a variety of presentation styles, however, all three presenters and moderator Sharma recognized and amplified the experiences of women.

The program was successful in spreading information about women's experiences throughout Nepal by giving young female members a voice who are typically silenced, increasing the visibility of emerging artists, and offering secure spaces for interaction and connection between like-minded individuals.

In eight districts of the Madhesh and Karnali Province, PROYEL, a project funded by the European Union with assistance from HELVETAS-Nepal and carried out by regional NGOs, has made an effort to share the experiences of three young female members of the Youth Sounding Board in order to demonstrate how digital technology and innovations accelerate equality and empowerment and elevate the dignity of women.

PROYEL has been working with thousands of young people, both male and female, in eight remote districts of the Madhesh and Karnali Provinces using a variety of methods, including digital technology, to advance equality and the empowerment of young people at the local level of government.

"In my experience, creating blog posts and Tick Tock videos may significantly impact how women are empowered and how confident I feel. We need to make a difference as young people. My blogs, videos, and other shared resources are now centered on young people since I became a member of the Youth Sounding Board.

DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality is the topic for International Women's Day on March 8, 2023 (IWD 2023).

The key theme for the Commission on the Status of Women's 67th Session (CSW-67), "Innovation and technological transformation, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls," is in line with this theme.

The International Women's Day (IWD) celebration honors and praises the women and girls who are leading the charge for the development of transformational technologies and digital education.

IWD 2023 investigates how growing economic and social disparities are impacted by the gender gap in the digital sphere. The IWD also highlights the significance of defending the rights of women and girls in online environments and tackling gender-based violence that is enabled by ICT.

"Including women and other underrepresented groups in technology leads to more inventive solutions and increases the likelihood of breakthroughs that support gender equality and cater to the needs of women. Contrarily, their exclusion has significant financial consequences.

Digital Divide

Three participants on the podcast discussed the economic effects of the digital divide in response to moderator Sharma's questions about its implications.

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According to Patel, granting women equal access to digital technologies during disasters might save hundreds of lives and millions of dollars worth of property. Neha Karki shares the opinion that giving mothers access to tools can help with issues related to child health and nutrition.

In a similar vein, Giri, a law student, thinks that access and ownership technology may boost women's potential and confidence while also giving them more exposure.

In the last ten years, low- and middle-income countries have lost USD 1 trillion in GDP due to women's exclusion from the digital world. If nothing is done, this loss will increase to USD 1.5 trillion by 2025, according to the UN Women's Gender Snapshot 2022 report. It will be necessary to address the issue of online violence, which a study of 51 nations found 38% of women had directly encountered, to reverse this trend.

Women and girls can become more aware of their rights and active citizens with the help of a gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology, and digital education, according to moderator Sharma.

Recent developments have demonstrated that advances in digital technology present enormous prospects for tackling humanitarian and development issues and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

Regrettably, the advantages of the digital revolution also run the risk of sustaining the gender imbalance that already exists. Women are being left behind as a result of this digital gender barrier, which is becoming more and more obvious in the context of digital skills and access to technologies. Therefore, a sustainable future requires the development of inclusive and transformative technology as well as digital education.

Bindu Sharma has worked hard to assemble all the topics about promoting gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the digital era in her moderating.

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The members of the Youth Sounding Board are young and vibrant, formed with the help and direction of the European Union Nepal, and devoted to enhancing youth participation in governance, empowering women, and assisting the process to advance equality and ending exclusion.

"Despite having made significant progress toward gender equality and women's equitable participation in economic growth, the vast majority of Nepalese rural women of all ages continue to experience prejudice and exclusion," said Patel, a member of the Youth Sounding Board.

Aagya Pokharel, Aagya Pokharel, and Project Coordinator Helvetas Nepal stated that International Women's Day is a day to honor the contributions and accomplishments of women through a variety of activities and engagements at various project levels. "We want to release several other podcasts in the future. This podcast is merely an introduction.

DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality is this year's International Women's Day theme according to the UN. The key theme for the Commission on the Status of Women's 67th Session (CSW-67), "Innovation and technological transformation, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls," is in line with this theme.

The Helevetas and PROYEL initiative continues to place a high premium on gender equality and women's empowerment, just like all other organizations do.

The project will accelerate the Equality initiative and explore the significant progress made and lessons learned over the years since the project's inception to drive transformative change.

We are working with our partner organization to develop innovative solutions to help women and young girls unleash their human capital and become leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents for green, resilient, and inclusive development.

PROYEL is also working to connect Youth Sounding Board Members with their youth panel. "We're thinking about doing some online learning and digital activism," Pokharel said.

The digital age has created unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to be empowered. However, advances in technology are introducing new forms of inequality and increasing threats to their rights and well-being.

Women and girls continue to be underrepresented in the development, application, and regulation of technology. They are less likely to use digital services or pursue careers in technology, and they are far more likely to face online harassment and violence. This limits not only their digital empowerment but also the transformative potential of technology as a whole—the exclusion of women from the digital sphere has cost low- and middle-income countries $1 trillion in GDP over the last decade.

Women in Nepal stand at a crossroads: allow technology to widen existing disparities and further concentrate power in the hands of the few, or put it to work on behalf of a safer, more sustainable, more equitable future for all.

“The choices Nepali women make today will profoundly impact our path forward. Here are four steps we can take in the right direction,” draw the Podcast tittled "Bridging the Gap: Young Women in Digital spaces."

Nepalese averages story don’t tell the whole story: race, age, disability, socioeconomic status and location all play a role in determining women’s digital access and use.

Marginalized groups such as older women, rural women and women with disabilities face significantly greater barriers to connectivity. Despite mobile broadband signals covering 76 percent of the population, only 25 percent is connected—men are 52 percent more likely to be within that online minority.

However, simply knowing what works is insufficient; governments must also invest in evidence-based programs and initiatives. Subsidies for smartphones and laptops for women and girls, as well as incentives for the provision of low-cost data plans, can help to overcome gendered access barriers. This also applies to digital literacy programs, which can help equip women and girls with the skills they need to lead, connect, and shape the digital space successfully.

“It’s inspiring to see how powerfully young women in Nepal are leveraging the digital sphere to voice their concerns, combat gender bias and advance equality. It’s a day to both celebrate their many outstanding accomplishments and serve as a reminder that gender-based barriers in technology should continually be addressed to empower women to safely participate in the digital world,” said Anja Delaquis, Trainee International Programmes and Digital Transformation, Helvetas.

Helvetas, who hosts the podcast, has attempted to connect its Youth Panel with Youth Sounding Board Members through digital innovation through the PROYEL Project.

The podcast carried a broader message, as EU ambassador to Nepal Nona Deprez has been encouraging young Nepalese, particularly women, to stand for equal rights and participate in local-level governance processes.

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