Regular discussion program on Youth and Gender
Organised by FES Nepal
6 February 2014, FES Nepal office
Report Prepared by Mibit Dahal
On February 6th, youth and experts from diverse background gathered
at FES hall to discuss on "Youth and Gender" presented
by Sumira Shrestha. The discussion was presided by Babu
Lal Yadav and observed by experts, youth activists, academician
and head of FES. Santosh Pariyar offered comments on the presentation.
After the brief introduction of FES and participants, Samira Paudel,
officer at FES anchored the program. With the end of general introduction,
the program started formally.
Linking two broader aspects youth and gender is difficult but
they do have common aspects to share. While defining youth Sumira
focused on different definitions adopted by various agencies
and shared the difficulty created by such gaps. While defining
youth as a complex idea that has been incorporated by different
agencies or government policies has created dissimilar categories.
She highlighted youth as group with high energy, aspiration
and power to do something. They are component of different sectors
of society. So they form a complex whole of non-homogenous group.
They are the path to adulthood. She said that gender on other
hand is socially constructed idea which starts from the very
beginning of the birth of the child. It accommodates socially
constructed roles and responsibilities of all the groups. She
highlighted different sectors where youth have contributed performing
a number of roles and responsibilities. Having these contributions
she also pointed out the key problems that youth are facing.
The structurally defined difficulties that youth are facing
are actually pulling their contribution and roles in life-situations
including unemployment. This is raising impediments to their
constructive participation. She also pointed out the questions
whether we can resolve such impediments for the maximum participation
She highlighted the problems that concern the gender question
illustrating examples from her own experiences of how gender
is differentiated within the household. Also she focused on
the deep rooted problem that gender roles and responsibilities
are facing which needs to be changed with the start of childhood
socialization process. Mostly the challenges that need to be
overcome by female are more difficult than males, she added.
They have to break the private sphere in order to be in the
public sphere, which is not only challenging but also ice-breaker.
Also the problem with youth and gender at once will have lots
of impacts on the entire process of upgrading personal attributes
and qualities. These difficulties are fueled by the non-categorized
bulk of youth with dissimilar positions, opportunities and outcome.
Those at the bottom of social and economic pyramid need more
intervention. Without adequate support to those in the margin,
the confidence level of the youth and gender in the long run
is shaken. To break the barrier (a form of traditional barrier)
is a critical challenge and should starts from family. This
requires at large a necessary for construction or filling the
gap, for addressing gender sensitive work. She also argued that
with minimal effort from the policy level the gap can be fulfilled,
which should be done by the concerned policy makers. Gender
and youth are the big components which need to be bridged to
uplift their social contribution and move to the condition of
peace and justice. Finally she ended with a paradox 'Gender
development to foster youth and development or Youth development
to foster gender and development,' for the participants to ponder.
Commenting on the paper Mr. Santosh Pariyar said that
most of the people take gender as only women. And the logic
behind the misconception is gender gap where women are more
disadvantageous than men. It requires balancing the role and
responsibilities of women and men. He also proposed suggestions
on broader categorization of male and female youth instead of
taking the whole youth as a single bulk without understanding
their structural disparities. It is a long needed discourse
for both male and female. The discrimination on gender part
relies also with the territory. Both youth and gender have suffered
with big intensity. He also pointed out that gender discrimination
does not start with birth but actually starts before the birth,
like selective abortion. Gender roles and youth are both major
part for state building and gender is not only sociological
problem but also psychological problem. He stressed "how
am I viewing the person is more of psychological". He explained
how youth are perceived in gender and how population at large
differs in idea. He stressed the need for constitutional guarantee
and finding some legal bases on such guarantee. He also added
that gender is also linked with cultural aspect as it is deep
rooted within the framework.
Ms. Lara Klossek raised a query to Mr. Santosh Pariyar
on quota to women. She said if the quota is given to them the
threat of marginalization starts from the very beginning in
the absence of such quota.
Mr Kosh Raj Koirala, a journalist, added the importance
of the topic in today's context. He supported the view presented
and added that demographic and population bulk must be taken
into consideration while we talk about the gender equality.
And the first step to do so is empowering them through education.
There should be grassroots level awareness for the elimination
of gender based inequality. Also it's important to access the
role of media be properly utilized in bringing awareness to
people. He raised a significant question on how can we utilize
youth for gender mainstreaming in order to make them capable
of taking a decision.
Mr Pranav Kharel, a journalist, raised the issue on
domestic market inequality. He said how informal economy is
related with process of more feminization of poverty and stressed
on creating same level (in different sectors like wages, facilities,
leave, health benefits, etc) for both male and female in domestic
Ms. Deepa Bhardwaj, labor expert, argued on the employment
issues which has been taken as non dignified work in own country.
She raised a question "How can we dignify the work?"
She said proper attention have not been made on green jobs which
is agriculture based jobs. She also raised the question on how
to break the family barrier on gender issue. Or should youth
start revolution on such issues? She related the role of youth
in maintain gender equality and said that more and more issues
are being politicized. She highlighted with her own example
how gender issues can be addressed from the home itself, in
family life as mother is seen equally competent like father
by children and both parents can serve as role model. She emphasized
on "cultivating equality culture at home," educational
place, work place and in larger sphere of politics.
Mr. Pradip Pariyar, a youth activist, highlighted on
need-based education in Nepal. He focused on introducing system
of education that caters the need of overall development of
Ms. Uma Thapa, student of Conflict, Peace and Development
Studies, said the need of empowering future generations at home.
"Is family itself responsible to create gap between male
and female starting from childhood?" she questioned with
her own experience. She also argued on change in cultural pattern
from the family itself.
Mr. Brabim K K.C, youth activist, pointed out the cases
where decisions have been or will be affected as women takes
a seat of decision maker. He said "social security, job
security and dignity of work must be maintained." He also
added that traditional skills should be certified in order to
support and preserve the traditional skills. He ended with need
to bridge the gap between information sectors and service sector
and modernize both the sectors of political economy so that
one complements the other in uplifting the backwardness of the
Ms. Indira Ale pointed out the difference lying in different
institutions. Facility differences, uneven pays and others are
gradually germinating seed of greater differences which needs
to be bridged with effective policy intervention.
Ms. Cornelia Puerschel, opened the debate on the questions
forwarded by presenter Ms Sumira Shrestha. She said that youth
must be empowered so that differences in gender and development
need not be re-addressed in the long run.
Dr. Chuda B. Shrestha, ex-chief of Police Training Academy,
applauded the holistic approach on the presentation. He stressed
on youth to replicate the good skills brought by foreign labor
returnees. He added that conflict have brought negative changes
as youth migration. And youth have been utilized in negative
force but not in constructive part. He stressed the need for
the election of local bodies so that many of youths can be local
leaders and constructively play roles in production, security
and social accountabilities.
Ms. Puspa Bhusal, former CA member highlighted the need
of development, governance and peace policies as greater youth
agenda. She said that differences in social struggle between
male and female is more of structural, somewhat related to religious
idea and practice. Youth should quest for legal provision to
eradicate such practices that are discriminatory in nature.
Mr. Ananda Aditya, Professor at Tribhuvan University,
raised serious question on methodological issues. He said that
gender and youth are correlated. How they can transcend the
time and forwarded a question whether just claim of rights can
make them (gender issues) capable of fostering equality. He
also said that non-reacting durable change is sustainable rather
than abrupt change. He suggested youth to learn the scholarly
models of Gargi and Maitreyi who challenged their male counterparts
in the intellectual discourse and even defeated them.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES, stated the necessity of
bringing different problems forward is important as this gives
chance to look into the solution. He stated freedom, need fulfillment
and self-realization are very much essential for each individual
at every part of life and therefore we must understand their
location in the state, economy and education. He said that education
must be functional and should be production based rather than
rote learning unreflective of social condition. Civic education
about enlightenment must be brought into to strengthen the social
base of democracy, bolster the power of change agents of society
and the text unrelated to human life. He further added that
youth is Nepal's future but by not expanding labor market within
the country we are compromising their future . Also rights and
duties of youth and gender issues must be in correspondence.
We need to address gender and youth problems institutionally.
Further he added that economy of violence must be converted
into economy of peace where production, distribution and circulation
go in effective manner. Also economy must be linked with the
state's need for order and popular need for social justice and
peace. For this greater degree of civic awareness must be provided.
Then he added the importance of ethics and civic education in
every sector which makes the governance accountable. He added
that rights and change must go hand in hand. Therefore, social
power coalition for justice is needed to bring different social,
gender, intergenerational and ecological justice into the policy
domain. He further added the importance of ecology as it is
essential for human life and forms a total life's interconnection.
Prof. of political science Lal Babu Yadav, chairman
of the program, pointed out the sensitive interconnection between
gender and youth. But, in Nepal, they are vaguely analyzed.
He also highlighted how our society and culture originated historically
in matriarchal way and gradually shifted to patriarchy. Now
there is a need to restore the balance. He further emphasized
on the need to promote better part of our culture which is essential
for our democratic political evolution. He added on equal participation
of both male and female which requires grass root level empowerment
and focused on bringing long term planning for the empowerment
of youth which means also the empowerment of women. He formally
ended the program thanking the paper presenter, commentator
and all the 16 participants who asked questions adding that
youth as a change agents of society should work hand to create
our society egalitarian and contribute to nation-building.