Launching and Dissemination of “Research report on women’s access to justice in Nepali Judiciary”

Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Remarks by UN Women Deputy Representative Gitanjali Singh | 14 September 2016 at Hotel Shangri-La

Rt. Honorable Chief Justice Sushila Karki, Executive Director of the NJA, Honourable Keshari Raj Pandit, Honorable Justice Sapana Malla Pradhan, Honorable Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha, Honourable Chief Judge, Court of Appeal, Patan, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Namaste, Good Evening

It gives me great pleasure to be here for the launch of the “Research report on women’s access to formal justice through the Nepali judicial system” conducted under the leadership of the Supreme Court by the National Judicial Academy (NJA) with support from UN Women.

The vision of the Nepali judiciary aims at ensuring justice for all. However, as we all know, rule of law often rules women out. UN Women globally is calling on governments to show strong commitment, and accelerate actions and policies to increase women's access to justice and foster a responsive justice system that advances women's equal rights, opportunity and participation.

Nepal has made significant progress in guaranteeing women’s rights through constitutional, legal and institutional reforms over the years. However, there is still room for improvement in the substantive and procedural laws to promote gender justice. The laws that exist on paper, must translate into substantive equality.

As was highlighted in the presentation, this report aims at gaining a more enhanced understanding of what enables women’s access to justice and what hinders it, and to obtain a better sense of the current level of women’s confidence in Nepal’s judicial system. As the report notes, the main hindrances to women’s access to justice are financial constraints, lengthy court procedures and language barriers.

UN Women is concerned that only one-third of the female court users are informed about the availability of the legal aid service. Continuous hearing is conducted in about half of the women’s rights related cases, and in-camera hearing in 40% of the cases. Confidentiality was maintained only in a quarter of the women’s rights related cases. Only about 40% of the court users - women victims of discrimination and violence were found to seek immediate support from justice sector actors.

The challenges faced by women are real and require our urgent attention. Women should not need to wait longer for justice. I am confident that the findings and recommendations of this study will provide justice sector actors with an improved knowledge of the challenges facing women and will pave the way for justice system improvements. This will ensure women’s increased participation and confidence in accessing the justice system.

Furthermore, I hope that the recommendations of this report will inform the action plans of the Access to Justice Commission established under the Supreme Court, and will be taken forward by the Supreme Court. I also hope it will be a key reference in developing the Gender Equality Strategy of the Supreme Court.

UN Women looks forward to a continued partnership with the Supreme Court, and the National Judicial Academy (NJA) to increase women's access to justice. Justice for women is not only a basic human right, but a critical development imperative for all of us, to achieve the shared goals of peace and sustainable development.

Thank you.