After several weeks of intense planning & preparation and short-listing & selection of participants, the long awaited consultation program – Young Women Caucus, A historic moment of gathering of young women from diverse sectors for the consultation on Beijing +20 was finally held on 31st January 2015 at Alfa Beta Complex in Kathmandu. It is was the first phase of the project ‘Young Women For Change ‘which is a project organised by Midwifery Society of Nepal (MIDSON), Coordinated by young women for change network and is funded by International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) an organisation based in USA which works for advancing the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of women . It also helps to prepare future advocates across the globe by providing advocacy training called as Advocacy in Practice(AiP).
The project aims to build an important platform to bring together youth women activists, organizations and other diverse stakeholders, including government representatives at national level to discuss on the key issues of young women that need to be addressed in the international discussions. The Caucus aimed to facilitate the engagement of young women in Nepal in the Beijing +20 process, and in turn aims to strengthen Nepal’s positions on sexual and reproductive health and rights at the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Around 50 young women, men who believed in gender equality and people of different sexual orientation and gender identities participated in the day long consultation program and discussed on various pressing issues concerning Nepalese young women so as to come up with appropriate recommendations.
The first half of the program was focused in providing the overview of the project, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and how it has been addressed globally over the past 20 years followed by an overview of Beijing conference and its twelve areas of concern for Gender Equality and Women Empowerment. Furthermore, in the first half we also had Beijing +20 review: How it works and we can influence?. The members of the facilitation team were Prof. Kiran Bajrachraya, President of MIDOSN, Ms. Smriti Thapa, Mr. Babu Ram Pant, Ms.Romi Giri and Ms.Ruby Shakya.
The Caucus was successful in being able to engage young students, young women activists and young professionals from different backgrounds and fields of study. During the second half of the caucus, With the thematic question – What are major issues of SRHR of young women in Nepal? the participants brainstormed to come up with several pertinent issues that needed immediate attention from the government and the concerned stakeholders. The issues raised by the participants were then categorized under the following six major areas of concern:
- Health services
- Comprehensive Sexuality Education
- Structural barrier / Decision making process and Participation.
- SRHR of differently able young women and Key affected young women (Sex workers, drug users, transgender, HIV/AIDS affected).
- Gender Based Discrimination & Violence against Women.
- Harmful traditional Practices
After sorting out the above six major areas, same number of parallel group sessions were conducted to discuss the achievements, challenges and gaps for improving the SRHR young women in Nepal under each of the above categories so as to provide appropriate recommendations trying to find it’s interlinks with twelve areas of Beijing platform for Action (BPFA). Advisory team of the project is currently working on the recommendations from the participants to prepare a Young Women’s Position Paper in SRHR which will be put forward to the key stake holders over a series of consultation meetings. Young Women for Change’s advisory team is also planning to put forward the position paper to the government delegation and members of Civil Society Organization (CSO) who will be attending 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. We shall also be sharing our position paper in next blog to come.
Sincere request you to keep following our blog and share us your stories and experiences in the field of SRHR, advocacy. We are planning to feature young women and their journey to change. You can even send us your small write up regarding your experience in participating in our caucus
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By: Smriti Thapa and Sudish Niroula