Round table discussion on gender-based violence and masculinities

28 Nov 2013

imagePhoto: Jessica Zimerman/UNDP Nepal

UNDP Nepal in partnership with MenEngage, an alliance of local NGOs, organized a round table discussion on Masculinities, Gender Identities and the Role of Men in Prevention and Elimination of Gender Based Violence" at the Nepal Academy in Kathmandu on November 28, 2013.

The round table brought together over two dozen participants, including representatives from UNDP, Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Nepal Police, National Women Commission, NGOs working on women’s issues and the media to have a candid discussion on the links between violence and masculinities.

The discussion pointed out how violence against women and gender-based violence (GBV) are still one of the biggest challenges for the country and sought the involvement of boys and men as change agents to prevent these problems within the family and the society.

Addressing the program, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Jamie McGoldrick commended Nepal for having made strong normative and legal commitments to end gender-based violence and inequality and stressed on the need for raising awareness on the existing laws. Referring to a study by the Government of Nepal, he pointed out that the majority of women are still unaware of any Nepali laws that address GBV.

 "Therefore, UNDP in Nepal is committed to support joint efforts of the relevant government institutions both at the national and local level, law enforcement agencies, and nongovernmental institutions in further implementation of international and national norms and regulations, advocacy and sensitization work and victim support with the aim to decrease gender based violence and increase gender equality."

Mr. Shankar Prasad Koirala, Joint Secretary, MoHA, said that the marking of 16 days of activism "enables us to discuss the role the men can play in reduction of GBV".  "The leveraging lies in continuous encouragement of women’s initiatives by women themselves and also by involving men. It is important that all relevant institutions work together not only on the national level but within the communities as well", said Koirala.

Ms. Mohana Ansari, Member of National Women Commission, stressed that the government should acknowledge women’s rights much broader than they are acknowledged today, like the right to abortion and divorce. "Men should also raise their voices in supporting greater women empowerment. Only when we will feel like equal citizens of the state, will our lives change", she said.  

Dr. Sanjeev Uprety, who made a presentation at the round table, said that despite a significant increase in the level of awareness among males on the issues related to violence against women and girls, a large number of men have not yet changed their stereotypical attitudes towards women.

Uprety, who is conducting a UNDP-supported research on GBV and masculinities, said to bring positive change in the intersecting areas of GBV, masculinities and gender identities, the focus should be on the core elements with which they have strong connection, which are law, ideology and structure respectively.