Nepal “rings the bell for gender equality”


Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan
Keynote speakers ring the bell to signify their commitment to gender equality. Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan

In a resounding call to action marking International Women’s Day 2024, UN Women Nepal, in collaboration with Global Compact Nepal, International Finance Corporation, Nepal Stock Exchanges, and United Nations Nepal, joined forces to “ring the bell for gender equality”. Held under the theme "Invest in Women - Accelerate Progress", the event underscored the pivotal role of the private sector in driving investments towards gender equality in Nepal.

Chaired by the Honorable Bhagbati Chaudhary, Minister of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens, the event drew a diverse audience including representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as development partners. Amidst a backdrop of increasing momentum for gender equality, attendees gathered to explore avenues for bolstering women's opportunities in Nepal’s financial landscape.

Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan
Honorable Bhagbati Chaudhary, Minister of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens delivering a speech in support of gender equality. Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan

In her address, Minister Chaudhary emphasized the imperative to invest in women as a means to bridge gender divides across all spheres. She declared, “The Ministry has allocated 42% of its budget towards empowering women through skills development, a move aimed at enhancing women's economic empowerment. Let the bell we ring today serve as a daily reminder to invest in women and advocate for gender equality.”

Attended by around 200 participants, the event commenced with the symbolic act of ringing the bell, followed by commitments from representatives across various sectors to champion women's advancement and gender equality.

Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan
Her Excellency Riina-Riikka Heikka, Finnish Ambassador to Nepal, delivering a speech during the event. Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan

H.E. Riina-Riikka Heikka, Finnish Ambassador to Nepal, underscored the significance of women's economic empowerment, citing Finland as a prime example of a nation that flourished through investments in gender equality. She highlighted the impending Least Developed Country (LDC) graduation of Nepal, stressing the need for inclusive economic transformation with a focus on empowering women.

Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan
Patricia Fernandez-Pacheco, UN Women's Country Representative to Nepal, welcoming participants to the event. Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan

Echoing the sentiment, Ms. Patricia Fernandez-Pacheco, UN Women Country Representative to Nepal, stated, “Investing in women is not only morally imperative but also strategically prudent. As investments in women soar, so do productivity, profitability, and efficiency. We call upon all sectors to unite in this endeavor.”

Research shows that having inclusive and gender-diverse boards and senior leadership is positively correlated with better financial and non-financial performance contributing to overall company growth and enhanced environmental, social and governance practices and policies.

Emphasizing the business case for gender diversity, Martin Holtmann, IFC Country Manager for Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, emphasized the positive correlation between inclusive leadership and enhanced organizational performance.

As the largest driver of formal employment, the private sector has a key role in addressing employment and gender gaps in Nepal. An analytical report on ‘Women in Business’ by the Central Bureau of the Statistics in 2021, revealed there are 29.6 percent female managers compared to that of 70.3 percent of male managers.

Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan
Audience panel, government officials, development partners and private sector representatives engaging in the “Ring the Bell” program. Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan

Dr. Navaraj Adhikari, Acting Chairperson of the Securities Board of Nepal, acknowledged the growing presence of women in the business landscape while advocating for concerted efforts to further empower them. He hailed Nepali women as key drivers of the economy, emphasizing the event’s commitment to their empowerment.

The event also featured a fireside chat between Bhawani Rana, Former President of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FNCCI), and entrepreneur Grace Rauniyar. The exchange showcased inspirational narratives of aspiring women and underscored the transformative potential of investing in women's leadership.

Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan
Bhawani Rana and Grace Rauniyar engaging in a Fireside Chat. Photo: UN Women/Laxmi Narayan

Shedding light on the way forward from the event, Krishna Shah, Executive Director at Global Compact Nepal, emphasized the importance of adopting the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPS) within the private sector to accelerate progress towards gender equality. He underscored the urgent need for amplified efforts, citing projections indicating a protracted timeline to achieve economic parity.

The Ring the Bell for Gender Equality Initiative, a global partnership championed by UN Women, IFC, United Nations Global Compact, and The World Federation of Exchanges, reaffirmed its commitment to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and creating a Nepal where gender equality is not just a goal but a lived reality.