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A Report of the Program on Civic Education and Woman's Rights

Organized by Modern Kanya Multiple College (MKMC)

9 March 2014

Report prepared by
Gyanendra Bhattarai,
Vice Principal, KNCM HS School
Bhimsengola, Baneswor, Kathmandu


This program was organized in two sessions. First one was 'Inaugural Session' and second was 'Workshop.' On the occasion of 104th "International (Workers) Woman's Day" this program was organized by Modern Kanya Multiple College in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). The program was chaired by Mr. Ram Prasad Dahal, the chairman of Modern Kanya Multiple College and the chief guest was honored to the Rt. Honorable former Prime Minister of Nepal and the president of Unified Communist Party of Nepal, (Maoist) Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Furthermore, other distinguished guests were Laxman Prasad Aryal, Ghanashyam Bhushal, Mahendra Pashwan, leaders from Nepali Congress Party, CPN UML and UCPN (Maoist) respectively. Some other guests were Devraj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office, Kashiraj Dahal and Sabin Pokhrel.

All the distinguished personalities of the program were extended warm welcome through a short speech by Ms. Anita Acharya, a B. A. 3rd year student of the college. Similarly, Mr. Ram Prasad Dahal delivered a short speech stating on the objectives of the program, college activities that support the issues of women and girls and warmly welcome the guests. In the same vein, Mahendra Pashwan, Ghanashyam Bhushal and Laxman Prasad Aryal delivered their invaluable views stressing over the civic education to bring changes in women's lives in Nepal. More importantly, they focused over the empowerment of women through education to overhaul in the socio-economic, political and cultural paradigms of the nation to make the society more equitable. To do so, they had their say that the government has to contribute tremendously. Lastly, the Principal of Modern Kanya Multiple College, Mr. Sabin Pokhrel put forward his views about the importance of women's empowerment for a family, society and nation. He also stressed the significant role of Modern Kanya Multiple College in taking a leading role to educate and make competent to girls and women in today's society. Finally, with the consent of the chairman of the program, first session was concluded.

Second Session

After a brief interval, the most important session of the program, second session began with the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Bina Poudel. Some dignitaries as guests were Devraj Dahal, Mrs. Deepa Gautam, director of Nepal Television, Mrs Samira Poudel, expert on gender issues, Mrs. Anju Karki, Lecturer, Eva Schiling, Mrs. Sarmila Koirala, Lecturer at MKMC,Ms. Sabina Koirala, Media person, Kashiraj Dahal,Constitutional expert, Dr Manju Dahal and reporters Mr. Gyanendra Bhattarai and Mr. Yadav Bhattarai. Devraj Dahal contributed a short but invaluable speech highlighting historical evidences of women's rights movements such as women's right to vote and right to parental property as well as the freedom and equality of them as equal to men. Some of his ideas are:

  • Civic education should aim to make citizens aware of enlightenment, freedom, (emancipation) through the reflection on inner vigilance;
  • It helps citizens critically to reflect on the condition of their existence.
  • It fosters popular sovereignty, 'bottom up' representation and participation in everyday activities that affect them;
  • Socialization is an important part of civic education. It has to be critical at three levels-family and society, civic and pious-and liberate citizens from the tutelage of these and enable them to make self-decision;
  • People should have faith; but no blind faith, they should think rationally;
  • Right persons should be elected and selected at the right place;
  • Political, Legal, and development policy should be self-made on the contextual experience of citizens and their representatives;
  • Only enlightened and active citizens can lead the change in the country;
  • There should be four types of justice; ecological justice, social justice, gender justice and inter-generational justice;
  • We should not ignore the past and our political history of enlightenement and remain blind to good ideas flowing from abroad;
  • Despite our biological difference, we are born to learn civic education and exercise equal rights and duties.

There were two personalities who presented their paper on two distinct titles were Ms. Sabina Koirala, a journalist and media person and Mr. Kashiraj Dahal, former secretary of Judicial Council and Chairman of Administrative Court of Nepal. Two papers presented by those distinguished personalities were "Gender Equality and Women's Role in Media" and "Democratic constitutional State and Woman Right" respectively. In the first paper presented by Sabina Koirala, she introduced the background information of gender violence in every society since classical age. Society made discriminatory systems since women did not have the privileges of education, health and employment. Her text also subsumes the following facts:

  • Gender equality is an issue of human rights now in the world.
  • People perceive male and female from different perspectives and behaved them accordingly.
  • Gradually, with the amendment in laws and reformation in entire legal system, forms of discrimination were narrowed down.
  • Some of the efforts are made to equalize women and empower them such as society free from discrimination and prejudice, inclusive system for women, special respectful behavior, special protection, reservation etc.
  • Some of the basic rights of women for which they struggled and have been rigorously demanding for are right of woman to education, health, right against poverty, right against violence, right to peace, social right, right to property, land and right to access to the resources of production, right to equal wages and salaries for same work, right to healthy reproduction, right to secrecy and right to self-esteem.
  • The Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063 (2006) guarantees the right to equality to ensure the right of women.

Nepal has extended its commitments in the protocol of 1979 and Beijing Action Forum to end all discrimination against women. She further writes about the current situation of women in Nepal including some existing social evils such as Sati practice, Deuki, Jhuma, Badi Practices which have undermined women's position in society. She states some examples of pioneering Nepalese women such as Madalaha Singh, Shanta Shrestha, Rashmi Rajyalaxmi Rana, Prabha Basnet, Bharati Silwal etc. who established themselves in Radio and Media sector. Now hundreds of Nepalese women are in media such as FM Radio Stations television stations and printing houses. But still their presence is very low and their allowance and salaries are discriminatory. She presents some statistical data of women's representation in other countries. She also mentions some current data of women's involvement in Media centers and highlights the problems they have been facing. Her paper clearly states that our social culture and customs are the daunting challenges for women's empowerment and change. She concluded her ideas with vehement stress over education which can only be a catalyst to overhaul the status of women in Nepal and the globe.

Reviewer's note

Mrs. Deepa Gautam, Director of Nepal Television, reviewed the paper presented by Sabina Koirala on Gender Equality and Woman's Role in Media. Basically, she previewed the text with general ideas to specific ones from the Nepalese data and practice to the global scenario of women's conditions and she praised such beautifully prepared paper. However, she argued her points as mentioned here: The description of the issue is quite interesting because she included basic facts of history like Nepalese women's contribution in Nalapani war during Anglo-Nepal war. Her data about women's involvement is praiseworthy though she mentioned 24% figure of Kathmandu. She has written much about inequalities but what could be those particular inequalities, they are not specified. The crust of gender based violence and gender inequalities is the prejudice mindset of men in the society. The idea of 'not establishing separate media house for women for their equality rather eliminating differences in co-media house' is worth for making sound and gender friendly environment of equal work.

Some Comments on the paper

  • It should be clear that on the basis of what materials they are assigned to do their work.
  • The table of chart and figure should be of specific year rather than only data.
  • Women should have masculine thought so as to compete and equalize themselves.
  • Quality of women's work should be increased not the quantity of workers.
  • Women friendly provision should be made at the work place. She has indeed worked hard in preparing the paper to be presented in the program.
    Second reviewer of Sabina Koirala's paper is Sarmila Koirala, lecturer of Modern Kanya Multiple College. Her reviews can be mentioned below.
  • Paper presenter has provided ample background information about gender inequalities and differences.
  • She has made very simple but is worth of significance and importance
  • Very explicit descriptions with present situation of women and their working conditions in media centers are given
  • She comments that specific details of far-reaching areas should be made available
  • Big efforts of Media House for women should be done to gain the elevation of status.
  • Figure of current year should be mentioned so as to authenticate the ideas in paper.
  • Though the number of female workers is here but it is quite miserable.
  • Women's number of employment is very low in electronic media so this should be increased.

Second paper, "Democratic Constitutional State and Woman Rights" was presented by constitutional expert, Kashiraj Dahal. His paper deals with two prominent issues, a state with its salient features of democratic and constitutional aspects and specified rights of women. On the backdrop of his paper, it presents the ideas of formation of a state with the contribution and equal participation of both men and women. A state formation suggests the growth of state mechanism, strong relation between state and society and defensive power against external intervention. Therefore, the core factor required for a strong state is stable peace that should prevail only in a stable state. Nepal should have the same feature to build a nation in post war period, ending protracted transitional condition.

Justice should be guaranteed to the people through democratic constitution along with physical and economic development. Political stakeholders should have explicit ideology, strong will power; farsightedness in leadership, sustainable governmental aptitude can only take a state towards progressive change. Some factors like growing impunity, ignorance to laws, irregularities and corruption, intolerance of political parties to each other, split of parties, immature constitutional and democratic culture and blatant ignorance of people's mandate and abuse of power and authority are immensely hindering the unity and strength of a state. There should be consistent and sustainable peace, rule of law, sovereignty in people, fundamental rights, freedom and equality, social justice, people's government, periodical election, separation and balance of power, press freedom, end of any form of autocracy, competitive democracy, proper use of economic resources etc. to create a fully democratic state. Therefore, a democratic state can only ensure women's rights. There should be political and democratic culture to make institutional development in a state. The paper states that modern democratic state assimilates the following basic principles:

  • Sovereignty vested to people
  • Supremacy of Constitution
  • Guarantee of Human Rights
  • Rule of Law
  • Periodical Election
  • Pluralism and Competitive Multiparty System
  • Independent Judiciary
  • Fully Press Freedom
  • Constitutional Guarantee of Independent Agencies for Responsible and Accountable Government

Furthermore, this paper clearly states some provision about inclusive system to guarantee the representation of women in all mechanism of state. It includes the historical data about women's right like of New Zealand which guaranteed political right to them in 1893. The data also suggest women's representation in executive, legislative, and judiciary along with other service sectors. Likewise, it speaks for the constitutional provision and guarantee for women's empowerment with the concept of special protection and equity, non-discrimination, preferential treatment, positive discrimination and reservation. Though many instances of violence against women have been taking place in the country, greater efforts have also been made to minimize and eliminate such inhumane acts through legal and constitutional amendments and provisions. Mr. Dahal also shared some wonderful and interesting experiences of his visit in the country and abroad. Reviewer's

Note

Mrs. Anju Karki, Lecturer at Padma Kanya Campus: She appreciated the entire presented by Mr, Kashiraj Dahal since it is a precise text about democratic constitutional state and women's right. She pointed out some positive aspects of the paper such as Nepal's position in Asia and in the world in terms of women's rights and legal provisions with the instances of violence against women and their status. Her main points are listed as;

  • In terms of women rights promotion and their empowerment, many non-governmental organizations are working. So their activities should be counted.
  • The paper should clearly state the exact figure of women's approach for women's rights.
  • Along with urban women, women of rural areas should also know about women rights,
  • Women should acknowledge their own rights, they should equally make approach to exercise them,
  • It is highly admired for the comparative analysis of women in the world, particularly with Asian countries,
  • Special details about the constitutional development where women's status and progress have been mentioned,
  • The paper has included some historical facts in chronological development that is worth of big applause for his sincere hard work.

In the same line, Ms. Eva Schiling, who works for Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung as an intern, also claimed some interesting ideas as political matters should be solved first to ensure people's (women) rights. It is very important to talk about women and their specific rights and they should be better empowered for their all round progress and change. After the presentation of these thematic papers, there was a short question answer session in which Prof. Madhav Prasad Ghimire and Dr. Manju Dahal raised some interesting questions. First he asked "Why is there the issue of women's rights only now since many men have been facing similar situations in many areas? There should be eloquent analysis and description of the topic. Newly employed may get depressed at work place but they should have enormous courage to deal with their problems. There should be clear explanation about gender issues And Dr. Dahal asked "What could be the personal view of Mr. Dahal about the issues of women" and Mr. Dahal replied to both of them stating that in a male dominated society men are always superior and they have been enjoying privileges. So women have been underprivileged and being governed by men. Therefore, women should be encouraged and promoted through legal and constitutional provisions as well as practical measures.

His personal view towards women is always full of respect and friendly since he knows men and women are two wheels of the same chariot.

Finally, the chairperson of the second session, Prof Dr. Bina Poudel concluded the program extending her thanks to both presenters for their wonderful and resourceful papers. She also highlighted the issue of women's roles in society and state and appealed all women to learn first to compete with men through their ideas, skills, knowledge and competence. Then Mr. Yadav Bhattarai on behalf of the reporters reported very briefly about entire program and committed to submit all details later.

 
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