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A report of Seminar on Economic Empowerment of Youth: an analysis from gender perspective

Organized by Women Studies Program, Padma Kanya Multiple Campis, Tribhuvan University


Prepared by
Uma Koirala, Ph.D.
Women Studies Program

19 April 2011, Kathmandu

Central department of Home Science and Women's Studies Program (CDHS&WSP) had organized a day seminar on the theme Economic Empowerment of Youth: an analysis from gender perspective in Baishakh 6, 2068 (April 19, 2011) at hotel Annapurna, King's way (appendix A). The major objective of the seminar is to update faculty members and students with latest knowledge and development in the issues of economic empowerment of youth from gender perspective in present context of Nepal.

The seminar was conducted in two sessions. One was inaugural and next was working session. Inaugural session was performed under the chair of Prof. Dr. Nava Raj Kandel Dean, Faculty of Humanities, Tribhuvan University (TU). Chief Guest of the program was Prof. Dr. Madav Prasad Sharma, Vice Chacellor of Tribhuvan University. Prof. Dr. Surya Lal Amatya, Rector, Tribhuvan University, Prof. Arabinda Bhomi, Director of SINAS, Tribhuvan University, Kashi Raj Dahal, Chief, Law Reform Commission, Nepal, Representatives of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Campus Chief Erene Shrestha, Padma Kanya M. Campus, Assoc. Prof. Anila Shrestha, Chief, CDHS&WSP were among the other distinguished guests presented on the seminar.

At the beginning, Chief, Anila Shrestha, CDHS&WSP welcomed all distinguished guests by her welcome speech. In her speech she further said that every year nearly 0.4 million Nepali youth are becoming unemployed and trying to migrate in foreign countries for the search of job which is a great loss of the country.

Prof. Dr. Indira Sharma, CDHS&WSP, heighted on the objectives of the seminar. During her speech Prof. Sharma said that since the establishment of CDHS&WSP it is performing various academic activities to widen the knowledge along with updating about the various issues of the society in global and local context and this seminar is one another step of the same activities. According to Prof. Sharma youth involvement in various income generating activities are major concerning issue of the nation today. This involvement may create job market in our own country in one hand and increase income in other side so that these very productive young people could participate in the development of nation instead of serving other nations. However for creating those environments, economic empowerment to all youths (male, female & third sex) is necessary, Prof. Dr. Sharma added. She further highlighted that the CDHS&WSP has realized the importance of the economic empowerment of youth because Department is highly dedicated to empower young people through academia. Therefore, according to her the major objective of this seminar was to explore the importance and possible way of economic empowerment of youth from gender perspective.

Chief Guest of the program Prof. Dr. Madhav Prasad Sharma, VC, TU. then formally did inauguration of the seminar by lightning the panas. Immediately after inauguration he delivered an inaugural speech. During speech Prof. Sharma expressed his happiness that CDHS&WSP is not only a pioneer to advocate about women's right but also for the gender equality. He further expressed his hope and wishes that this seminar will give a definite guideline on the issue of economic empowerment of the youth so that young people will be benefited in coming days by which country could be benefited ultimately.

Representative of FES during his speech pointed out the general characteristic of society as demand of equality by weaker section and raising voice of freedom by stronger section of the society. However young women are more marginalized in comparison to other male counterpart so we have to think creatively to bring female youth in mainstream of economic activities he further suggested. He further emphasized that youths are asset of the nation so proper guidance is need to involve them in productive work.

During inaugural session Joint Secretary Mr. Ran Bahadur Shretha, Ministry of Youth & Sports (MOY&S), during his speech, gave information about general policies and programs developed by MOY&S to bring young people in mainstream of national development. He further clarified that the strategy plan of youth has defined 16 to 40 year's age group people as Youth.

Rector Prof. Surya Lal Amatya, TU also delivered a lecture and pointed out the importance of gender studies in present context and expressed his hope that Padma Kanya Campus will take a lead to enroll male students in Gender studies. Prof. Amatya also mentioned that CDHS&WSP has done commendable job of empowering young women towards their rights and duties through Women's Studies Course and made them a very good change agent /actor of gender equality.

In the same session, former member of National Planning commission Dr. Nirmal Pandey delivered few words made a wish for the success of the seminar. During his speech Dr. Pandey appreciated the theme of seminar as a very timely and congratulates CDHS for taking lead to organize such a valuable interaction program. Society is experiencing changes within itself by the program focused on women/gender equality doing by Government and I/NGOs which could be clearly seen even in the Far Western part of the country, he further added.

At the end of the session, Chair person of the inaugural session Dean, Prof. Dr. Nava Raj Kandel, Faculty of Humanities, TU expressed his happiness that the conducted seminar is very contemporary and important in present context of Nepal. Prof. Dr. Kandel also mentioned that Government should recognize the household entrepreneurship of the women. However it is necessary to promote entrepreneurship of youth so that there will be more qualified and competent human resource to intervene the economic growth and development of the nation, he added.

Coordinator Dr. Uma Koirala, Women's Studies Program, TU, thanked all the distinguished guests and participants for their valuable time provided to the seminar.
Master level students of Gender studies, Women's Studies, Population Studies, Sociology and Economics were the participants of the seminar. All the faculty members of CDHS&WSP and Gender Studies had also participated in the seminar. Ms. Kalpana G.C. was the master of ceremony of this inaugural session.

Second session of the seminar was working session. This session was conducted under the chair of Prof. Dr. Indira Sharma. Three thematic papers were presented during this session. First paper was presented by President and senior economic consultant Dr. Meena Acharya, Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation, entitled Approaches to Development and Gender - an impact in Nepal's policies. In her paper Dr. Acharya has mentioned that Jana Andolan II, has set the tone of the current fundamental political transformation in progress in Nepal. She further mentioned that this transformation has changed the way the goal and objectives of economic development are perceived in the country. With mobilized groups increasingly making demands on the state for social justice, it has become clear to policy makers that development without equity is not sustainable. This has led to changes in the policy approach to development, from gender mainstreaming and inclusion as a strategy to accelerate the growth and reduce poverty to right based approach to development. The process of formulating the Three Years Interim Plan (TYIP) (2007-2010) also reflected this change. According to Dr. Acharya efforts were made to listen to the citizens' voices on a much wider scale when setting development goals and objectives of the Plan, however there are lot problem seen in the implementation part.

Commentating in the paper of Dr. Acharya Director, Dr. Nirmal Pandey, Centre for Policy Research, appreciated the concept and effort of paper to explore the Government's plan and policies to empower women. He further elaborated that Ninth Five Year Plan was a turning point for women's empowerment where women's empowerment has taken as a right based approach. He also mentioned that CBOs, women activists and gender conditions are so live in Nepal who could make desirable change in the area of women's right and gender equality.

Various concerns and quarries were raised after the paper presentation and commentator's comment on the paper. Assoc. Prof. Meera Mishra made a concern about the mention of role of institutions, women's agencies and structural changes in the presented paper which have made positive changes in the life of women. Similarly, Prof.Dr. Chandra Bhadra and Dhan Pd. Pandit also expressed quarries about the various efforts made by I/NGOs for women's empowerment.

At the end Dr. Acharya tried to satisfy all quarries made by participants and said that she will be happy if her paper makes a ground of debate in future.

Second paper was presented by Campus Chief, Dr. Shree Krishna Shrestha, Public Administration Campus, on Youth Empowerment through Youth Entrepreneurship in Nepal . This paper has mentioned that youths constitute 38 percent of the total population of Nepal. Statistics show that about 400,000 youths hit the employment market every year. The situation of youths is different in accordance with social, economic and geographical context. There is difference between the youths in urban and rural areas in terms of their access to services, facilities and resources. The youths of the rural areas have very limited resources, means and opportunities. A common identity is difficult among the youths because of diversity, different status, situation and environment. So, Dr. Shrestha urged that it is necessary to adopt different strategies to address these different contexts while making an effective policies targeted to youths. He elaborately discussed about the situation of youth and need of economic empowerment of them for income generating activities and widens the job market so that there could be ample attraction for youth to retain in their own country. He further elaborated the general practice that youth's rights should be judged from three key areas of Provision, Protection, and participation, often described as the three Ps.

Prof. Dr. Puspa Shrestha, Malla, Central Dept. of Economics, made comment on Dr. Shree Krishna Shrestha. According to Prof. Mall, choice of life is necessary for the young people to empower them. What they need and what they desire should be focused i n the planning. There should be brain gain approach need to be taken seriously against brain drain and it should be reflected in policy as well. She further suggested making coordination with FNCCI to develop entrepreneurship for youth.

Various quarries and concerns were made by various participants of the seminar. Major concerned were raised on the age group of youth (16 - 40 years) mentioned in the definition of youth. Prof. Dr. Chandra Bhadra expressed her quarries on how foreign employment is destroying family/house? At the end Dr. Shrestha clarified the quarries raised.
Lastly, third paper entitled International Instruments and youth policy of Nepal to empower youth was presented by Joint Secretary R.B. Shrestha, MOY&S. Mr. Shrestha has mentioned various international and national instruments related to the youth in his paper. During paper presentation Mr. shrestha said that Government is trying to ensure youth participation at local, national, regional and continental levels. To reach this goal, it is a duty of various sectors of the society to improve the capacity of the youth to get involved in public life and provide them with access to information on politics as well as instruments for participation. Youth organizations must be strengthened and youth delegations included in important political meetings. In all these respects the needs of marginalized youth must be considered and special support need to provide. He also informed the participants that Government has a desire to invest one percent of the National budget for youth so that mass employment and income generation activities could be possible however this could not be materialized yet.

Commenting on the above paper commentator Prof. Dr. Chandra Bhadra said that family/nation needs to invest on youth by giving them good quality education and skills to make them a good quality human resources with protecting them against various types of violence. She also emphasized on making these young people gender sensitive so that they could create gender just society/nation.

Various quarries were made by the participants in the Ran Bd. Shrestha's paper especially about the employment opportunity and seed money (without any deposite) to start any entrepreneurship providing by the MOY&S to support youth for economic empowerment.

At the end of the second session the Chairperson of the session Prof. Dr. Indira Sharma summed up all three papers that were presented in the seminar. Prof. Sharma also thanked all paper presentators for presenting such a valuable thematic papers which could be very beneficial to the participants. She also thanked commentators for their creative comments along with participants for their active participation and raising various quarries.

This seminar was conducted on the coordination of Dr. Uma Koirala. FES had sponsored this one day seminar.

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