Press Release: Enhancing Women’s Leadership and Political Participation

South Asian Regional Exchange Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, Women Commissions and Ministries and Election Commissions. July 15-17, 2014

Date: Thursday, July 17, 2014

A South Asian Regional Exchange Meeting is being held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 15-17 July 2014 and is hosted by Women Parliamentary Caucus and National Commission on Status of Women Pakistan and the National Women’s Commission Nepal. This event is supported by UN Women and UNDP. More than 100 participants from Nepal and some 45 delegates from Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participated in the meeting. Participants include Parliamentarians, representatives of Women’s Caucuses, Women Ministries, Women Commissions, Election Commissions, as well as UN agencies and international development partners.

Enhancing Women’s Leadership and Political Participation 

Ms. Sheikh Chandtara, the Chairperson of the National Women Commission in Nepal stated in her welcome address “While we celebrate our efforts for bringing forth women’s political participation that has resulted active women political leaders, let’s join hands to make coordinated efforts for women empowerment in South Asia”. Ms. Sangeeta Thapa Deputy Representative UN Women Pakistan said “let the twenty first century be the century of women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality”. Ms. Sophie Kemkhadze, the Deputy Representative UNDP Nepal in her welcome remarks said “political empowerment goes hand in hand with economic empowerment. We as UNDP commit to supporting gender equality for equal participation of men and women in society”.

The Chief Secretary of the Government of Nepal Mr. Leela Mani Paudel acknowledged that the participation of women in decision making increased over time. The system is such that it does not facilitate women’s participation. We need to work hard for quality education, access to property and credit”. The Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal Hon’ble Nilkantha Uprety in his address said “we have tried very hard in the last 50 years to empower women but we need to have more provisions in legislation to have effective participation of women in politics, let us start together in SAARC region and join hands to provide women the space to have leadership”.

Ms. Shaista Parvez Malik the General Secretary of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus lit the lamp to inaugurate the meeting and said “while a lot is being done in all our countries and we acknowledge that we have come a long way, there is need to do a lot more, empowerment is not restricted to one sphere, we need to bring women forth in education, equal economic opportunities and also decision making. We need to bring about a change in attitude and bring forward women from grassroots to give 10% quota on winnable seats in political parties. Nations win if women win, let us hold hands and become one voice and one face for the voiceless and the faceless women”.

Ms. Khawer Mumtaz the Chairperson of the National Commission in her keynote address stated that “it is time for us to establish mechanisms and institutions at a regional level” she further emphasized that “violence against women and girls is the most potent barrier to women’s development, equality and opportunities”. She further highlighted the need to bring forth these recommendations at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) level. Justice Kalyan Shrestha from the Supreme Court of Nepal and chairperson of SAARC law in his hey note address said “Violence Against Women is a social emergency and we need to take active action against it”.

This two days exchange meeting included technical sessions on: mechanisms to enhance women’s political participation; challenges and opportunities for national women’s commissions and possible legal and institutional provisions to end violence against women and girls. The meeting was concluded with the consensus on key recommendations to enhance women’s representation and leadership in decision making in public institution, national parliaments and local council, media and civil society. The meeting agreed to develop standardized indicators for measuring the extent of violence against women and to ensure the availability of comparable data in the regional. The group also agreed to set up a regional portal to facilitate sharing of information and peer learning, and establishing regional alliances of women parliamentarians, national women’s machineries and election monitoring bodies.

For details and queries please contact:
Durga Prasad Khatiwada, Programme Specialist, Head, Governance and National Planning Unit, UN Women Nepal,
Tel: +9771 4255110/4254899 ext:119, Fax: +9771 4247265,
E-mail: durga.khatiwada[at]