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31 December 2020

Message from the RAP3 MHLR Team Leader, Kirsteen Merrilees.

Following the official handover of the first 26km section of road, I would like to express my sincere thanks and congratulations to all those who have worked on or supported in any way the MHLR road construction works.  The MHLR has been a particularly challenging project due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the work sites, the difficult terrain and the extreme cold and heavy snows experienced in the winter months.  One response to these challenges was to introduce an innovative way of optimising labour and equipment based approaches by piloting a new contracting model and performance standards for using excavators.  This brought about a number of new challenges from which we have all learnt valuable lessons for potential future projects.  We have also learnt a lot about large scale forest clearance, log management and compensatory tree planting.  This was new to most of our team and again we have learned many valuable and practical lessons for the future.

The additional challenges of working safely and protecting everyone during the pandemic has further added to these challenges, but everyone involved has risen to the challenge remarkably; demonstrating a level of determination and resilience without which we would not be here today. 

I would like to thank in particular the RAP3 MHLR team for all their hard work and dedication despite the many challenges and difficult working conditions they have experienced; to thank the communities that have worked on the road construction and their compliance with our strict performance and health and safety rules; the excavator owners and operators for following our unique contracting approach and requirements; our project delivery partners PHASE Nepal for providing much needed health and safety support to our workforce and their families; and to the many government officials, community leaders and representatives that have facilitated works progress and helped resolve problems. 

31 December 2020

Handover of first 26km section of Mugu Humla Link Road from Gamgadhi to Darke

The RAP3 MHLR team are pleased to announce the official handover of the first section of the UK aid funded Mugu Humla Link Road (MHLR) to the Government of Nepal.  This is a 26km long section from Gamgadhi to Darke Khola.  The handover ceremony took place on 25th December 2020 during which responsibility for maintaining the road passed from the project to the Karnali Province Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development (MOPID).  The handover of road responsibility was accepted by the Office Chief of the Infrastructure Development Office (IDO) for Mugu, Yagendra Dharala, on behalf of MOPID.  The handover was witnessed by the chief guest Purna Bahadur Rokaya, Chair of the District Coordination Committee (DCC), special guest Hari Jung Shahi, Mayor of Chayanath Rara Municipality, and Er Janak Raj Pant from the federal level Department of Local Infrastructure (DOLI) under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MOFAGA).  Audio recorded messages from Suman Baidya, Senior Responsible Officer from the British Embassy Kathmandu (representing UKaid), and Kirsteen Merrilees, Team Leader of RAP3 MHLR, were played during the ceremony which focused on the importance of maintaining the road after handover and thanking all those involved in MHLR construction for timely completion despite the many challenges that have been faced.

The MHLR is funded by UK aid from the UK government and built to fair weather earthen road standards with all necessary drainage and retaining structures.  Due to poor soil conditions, the road surface in some sections has been improved through gravelling or stone soling to make it passable for much of the year.  The quality standard of the road has been confirmed by an Independent Verification conducted on behalf of UK Aid and a separate joint monitoring visit by project and government officials.  They and the DOLI engineer confirmed that the road meets the GON standards.

The full length of MHLR will be 63km when complete, linking through to Deuli Bazaar in Humla and on to other roads that will then connect through to Simkot and eventually to the Chinese border.  Currently an access track has reached to the MHLR end point and construction work on the remaining section is ongoing.  The handover of the remaining road length is planned for June of 2021.  Four small bridges are also due to be constructed along the road, with completion of these planned for May 2022.

During the handover ceremony many participants expressed their high regard for the project and its focus on high safety and safeguarding aspects, advocacy for equal pay for equal work and transparency in all aspects of project delivery.

The opening of this first section will enable local products to reach markets more easily, quickly and cheaply than before.   The DCC Chair suggested that the RAP3 MHLR workers are now skilled and can be provided with employment opportunities on other construction and maintenance projects. 

The IDO Office Chief confirmed that the Province now holds ownerships of the road and that it will cooperate and coordinate with the local government to protect and maintain the road. 

18 December 2020

Prior to the handover of a 26km new road section of RAP3 MHLR to the Provincial government, a joint monitoring visit was carried out in the presence of Mugu Infrastructure Development Office Chief, Divisional Forest Officer, other stakeholders and members of the project field team. The monitoring team inspected the road from Rugha to Darke on 12th Dec. 2020.  During the road inspection, the Monitoring team gave a satisfactory response for the quality of work performed by the RAP3 MHLR and concluded that the road is ready for the handover as it meets the Nepal Rural Roads standards.

After the inspection work, the Monitoring team also visited up to the end point of MHLR road i.e., Deuli Bazar, Humla (67+000) km via RAP3 MHLR and DFO vehicles. The first four-wheel vehicles have driven up to the end point of the Deuli section for the first time along the MHLR track which has made the local people of this region happy and hopeful for the future. Regarding the road work progress after Darke section and up to the end point, Deuli Bazar, providing structures is mainly remaining while track opening has been completed adhering to required standard. The COVID-19 pandemic has largely impeded the progress of road work which has now gained momentum. The monitoring team enthusiastically shared how within 2 years of short time period RAP3MHLR has actually achieved such a huge progress which is contrary to other government work practice. People of Chankheli rural municipality are very elated as the previously constructed road by RAP3 will now be operational as it will be integrated to existing road network of Nepal once Mugu Humla link road is fully completed

18 December 2020

A contractual agreement between RAP3 MHLR and Shankarmali-RIDARC JV was signed on 2nd December 2020 for the design and construction of four small span bridges along the Mugu Humla Link Road. There are four small crossings along the MHLR corridor for which an open tender was invited nationally on 3rd September 2020 for the design and construction of bridges over those crossings. The entire tendering was carried out through an e-platform customized and developed for RAP3 MHLR. Evaluation committee decided on awarding the contract to the Shankarmali-RIDARC JV following bid evaluation and clarification meetings. The COVID-19 safety precautions were strictly followed by RAP3 MHLR staff and bidders who visited the RAP3 MHLR Central office for contract signing on 2nd December 2020.

The total contract price (excluding VAT) is Seventy-Five Million Eight Hundred and Eighty Thousand (NRs. 75,880,000) and the contract completion period is the end of May 2022.

10 December 2020

Discussion Topic: Is equality for women the end point?

Our societies are largely driven by gender stereotypes and roles delineated for their gender by their cultures. This has suppressed the rights of all, both men and women, to pursue opportunities of their choice, making them victims of a gender biased society. The statistics support the fact that girls and women make up the majority of victims of gender-based violence and discrimination. Therefore, women have been fighting for equality for decades, in an attempt to make society better for them and the future generations. However, on the other side, our society hardly encourages men to speak up against any form of discrimination and violence against them. We barely support men to change their attitudes and behaviour towards women and the society. On the contrary, we are more focused on encouraging men to display specific behaviours as proof of their masculinity. From an early age, they are being taught that a “real man” must be powerful, dominant and independent. They must not be swayed by emotions and must become the breadwinners and decision makers of the family.

Many research studies have shown that men are less likely to report to police when they are physically assaulted by women. Men also go through domestic violence, sexual exploitation, depression, economic pressure, societal expectations, abandonment of families, and many other tragic moments; but these issues faced by men are more likely to be hidden because of the dignity we expect from men and the theory of masculinity that makes it hard for them to raise their voices for any kind of emotional and other external support.

Research has shown that in most cases, men are readily assumed to be the perpetrator and women the victim and that society is less likely to respond compassionately to men’s suffering. Men are expected to endure their pain and problems in solitude. According to the American Psychological Association, “Dozens of studies and surveys over the past several decades have shown that men of all ages and ethnicities are less likely than women to seek help for all sorts of problems--including depression, substance abuse and stressful life events--even though they encounter those problems at the same or greater rates as women.”  Studies have also claimed that men with a higher level of traditional masculinity ideology have a more negative view of seeking help from others. The conservative gender stereotypes have forced men to suffer silently which is a serious problem in our society.

In today’s world, while fully supporting and encouraging ‘females’ to obtain equal rights and gender equality, we must also pay attention to redefine masculine identities at the community and household level so that boys and men can also speak out for solutions to their problems. Over the years, men and women have been engaging in dialogues and demonstrating examples that show the benefits of women’s empowerment and ending violence and discrimination against women. But we also need to understand that the traditional masculine identities are highly toxic and support gender inequality in the society; this is harming both men and women in various ways. Therefore, it is high time we redefine masculine identities to play a key role in helping challenge gender inequality, gender stereotypes, gender roles and all sorts of gender traits and bias in order to build a healthy and gender-neutral society for all.

Over the years, various liberation movements have recognised the plights of women. To challenge gender discrimination, we must also recognise the role of men in creating a supporting environment. The movements that benefit women must not leave men silenced; gender equality does not mean turning the tables and suppressing men, it means giving a voice to all irrespective of their gender. Therefore, we must go hand in hand in recognising contributions of each gender and work together to solve issues created by the prevailing stereotypes of our society.  

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

In RAP3 MHLR, we celebrate International Men’s day on 19th November to acknowledge the values and achievements of the men in the project. We recognise their contributions and responsibilities for their family, community and the nation as a whole. Like the International Women’s day, it is good to have a day that celebrates male diversity so that we can support men and also challenge gender stereotype that affect young boys and men.

Furthermore, the Safeguarding Guidelines and Best Practices of the RAP3 MHLR e-learning training course encourage everyone to seek support and complain if they have been subjected to any form of abuse or discrimination. The training materials also include various scenarios to highlight that perpetrators aren’t always defined just by their gender.  We have trained our staff to treat and sympathise with all victims equally irrespective of their gender, race, and religion They are also responsible for informing the authorized team who will take the case forward in a lawful manner.

To conclude, we thank the men of Karnali Province, who broke gender stereotypes and allowed the women of their household to step outside of the house and access paid work.  This has not only helped the women to become empowered in the process, but has supported the empowerment of other male workers to break some of their masculine ideologies.  We are proud of all our male workers who have come forward acknowledging that not all the old notions that are followed in society are good.

Globally, the cases of female victims of violence are disproportionately larger than males. Nevertheless, elimination of violence against men is also important.  Therefore, to make the world an equal place for men and women, men should also have space to speak up against violence. How can we encourage boys and men to report any form of violence and discrimination against them?

09 December 2020

Discussion Topic: The image of women in the visual media can influence our society 

 

Media is a big part of people’s daily lives. The various types of media, such as radio and television programmes, movies, newspaper, magazines, advertisements etc.  can in some way impact and influence the behaviour of viewers.  Film making is a creative art of work which reflects the various stories of our own society and on the other hand, our society can also be influenced by these films. The global facts show that the maximum number of film directors, script writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers are male, which means that most of the stories in films are also narrated from a male perspective where female characters are controlled by, and mostly exist in terms of how men want to represent women in their story. 

Various films and TV series often represent female characters as powerless and they are rarely portrayed as leaders. In fact, apart from entertainment, visual media can convey a strong message to the audience. However, sometimes the contents of movies and serials further bolster the regressive practices of the society. Objectification of women is common in many blockbuster movies. This is derogatory towards women and can establish a space in our society where objectifying women is normal and acceptable.  Women are also often portrayed as naïve in our movies while males are usually the protagonist who heroically saves a helpless woman from her misery. But this is not always the case because women today are vocal about the choices they make, economically independent and have the courage to fight for their rights.  When women are portrayed as weak characters in movies and serials, our society is encouraged to believe in women as ‘weaker sex’. 

However, things are changing slowly – there are a few recent movies and TV series that have challenged such male-centric approach or have been gender sensitive in their contents.

Therefore, it is now high time for the public to ramp up their support to the movies and other popular media that to bring genuine topics onto the screen rather than sticking to a clichéd narrative which only helps to promote gender bias in society. Our movies and serials should promote progressive thinking and social equality as it can have a wider impact and can be an effective means of deconstructing the traditional stereotypical norms of our society. 

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

It is very important to pay attention to the impact of any online content that we present through different types of online and visual media. If any of the content we show through the media encourages negative behaviour in society and promotes sexist or biased language and roles, then it is high time that we need to correct such contents in time.  

In your opinion, how much importance should we give or not give to the content of visual media and films to promote gender equality in the society?

#StopSexualisingWomen

#PromotePositivity

#16DaysChallenge

#GenderEquality

08 December 2020

Discussion Topic: Economic opportunities can be an important way to prevent human trafficking in Nepal

Women trafficking is one of the grave misfortunes against human rights. Girls trafficking is still one of the main problems in Nepal. The various cases of girls trafficking in the past years show that due to lack of education, awareness and financial support, young Nepali girls and women can be easily trafficked mainly in rural areas, and fall prey to the false hopes of traffickers for better opportunities and happy life in the city. These trafficked women are then forced into either sex industry or forced labor. And when these trafficked girls and women are rescued, due to social stigma, the rehabilitation process becomes even more challenging for them. And many times, these girls and women are not even accepted by their own families, which only adds to their misery. Even today, there are many Nepalese women who travel to the Gulf countries in search of better employment opportunities through illegal means and they are more likely to be trafficked into sex industry and forced labour.

If we are to understand why young girls and women of remote areas are more vulnerable, this again hints to Nepal’s conservative society that hardly supports for girls’ education. In the past and even today, parents in various remote places in Nepal believe that a daughter should be adept in housework rather than going to school for education. Because of the conservative practices in rural areas, young girls fail to identify potential risks and become easy targets for those traffickers. On the surface, “Women Trafficking” may seem like a separate issue but if we look more closely, Gender-Based Violence is one of the reasons leading to “Women Trafficking” in Nepal. Due to inequality and deep-rooted patriarchy, the status of women in Nepali society has been undervalued for which they have been subjected to various forms of abuse and exploitation. 

The government of Nepal has passed strict laws to combat human trafficking. However, our girls and women will still be at great risk of being trafficked unless there are strategies to address the grassroot problems such as limited economic opportunities and easy access to education for girls and women.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

Nepal government has taken a various step forward to curb human trafficking in the country, but the possibility of women in rural areas being trafficked due to limited economic opportunities has not yet been ruled out. Pangmati Badwal, female RBG of RAP3 MHLR from Mugu district once said, “My husband died a few years ago. I am the only breadwinner in my house. I have been able to earn money by living in my own village. If RAP3 MHLR had not given me this job to a single mother like me, I would have had to leave the village in search of employment. And it is not as easy for women as it is for men to go and work abroad”. Many other women like Pangmati say that they are very happy to be able to earn money by living and working in their own village as the RAP3 MHLR project has provided employment to female road building and maintenance groups in various rural districts of Karnali Province. After earning their own income in the village, women are able to improve their socio-economic status and some are also able to send their children to school. It is proof that when the economic situation improves, children also get the opportunity to go to school and as a result they can be aware of any illegal business like women trafficking in the society.

The employment opportunities in projects like RAP3 MHLR will be short-lived, but if the Government of Nepal can work to bring sustainable and long-term employment opportunities in rural areas, women’s economic upliftment and development in education sector can be achieved and that can reduce the possibility of women trafficking in Nepal.

Nepal has a long history of trafficking of girls and women. Several researches have claimed that economic status of a family force girls and women into trafficking. How can we combat this intolerable violation of human rights in Nepal?

#StopHumanTrafficking.

 

#AChangeIsMust.

 

#16DaysChallenge

#SpeakUp.


 
07 December 2020

Discussion Topic: Cyber violence against women

As shown by the statistics, the number of internet users in Nepal has increased rapidly in the recent years. People are now taking internet as the basic service for a number of daily purposes. While the number of internet users continues to rapidly grow across the nation, various forms of online harassment and the incident of cyber-crime has also been observed in the past years.

Council of Europe (COE) has defined Cyber violence as “the use of computer systems to cause, facilitate, or threaten violence against individuals that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering and may include the exploitation of the individual’s circumstances, characteristics or vulnerabilities”. When there is any violence, we assume that someone would get hurt physically. This is indeed a very crucial factor that reduces the gravity of cyber violence and at times they are completely overlooked. Especially young girls and women are soft targets of cybercrime as suggested by facts and figures. Many a times, these women do not understand how to register a complaint based on the mental stress/psychological trauma that they are undergoing, as these incidents take place in the digital space. While in most cases, cyber bullying, harassment and any other cyber-crime faced by women is considered a “behavioural fault” in a male dominated society of Nepal. Young girls and women are discouraged from reporting cyber violence against them as they hardly get any support from their own family members and are often defamed in every possible way instead of punishing the preparators. There is a strong possibility that young girls and women who cannot take a firm stand for themselves may feel humiliated and emotionally distressed, which can have a long-term effect on their mental health. Therefore, to make cyber space safe and healthy for everyone, strict cyber-crime laws and policies must be actively regulated in the country and also public awareness programmes should be started to prevent defamation of victims which can encourage girls and women to report any cyber-crime against them.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

RAP3 MHLR ensures a safe and healthy workplace for everyone working on the project. The RAP3 MHLR code of conduct clearly states that if there is any form of bullying/harassment through any medium – direct, phone calls or using online platforms, during office or non-working hours the project will have zero tolerance and take prompt action.  In RAP3 MHLR, we have a strict IT security and policies for everyone accessing and using the project’s assets and resources. An e-learning course is designed to build knowledge on the proper use of IT. Sharing the policy across the project helps our staff understand IT rules that will help protect themselves and others. Our IT officers provide the IT policies and guidelines to all the project staff on what to do and what not to do. They also clearly define, who gets access to what, and what the consequences are for not following the IT rules. Furthermore, sharing or posting personal information, photographs and stories of our staff, beneficiaries, or any other stakeholders through online/offline platform is not acceptable without obtaining the proper consent and permission from the concerned person.

In RAP3 MHLR, all staff and beneficiaries are well informed about the reporting mechanism of any form of violence against them. They also strictly follow the rules of obtaining consent from any concerned person/authorities before taking any photographs or sharing information in the public.

What can be done about cyberbullying or online harassment, particularly among young girls and women? How can we encourage girls and women to report against any type of online harassment?

#CyberViolenceISsameAsOtherFormsOfViolence.

#AChangeIsMust.

#16DaysChallenge

#SpeakUPReportCyberViolence.

04 December 2020

Discussion Topic: Empower women through financial autonomy

In most of the families in Nepal, men work to earn a living and women work at home and have no source of income. Their financial expenses solely depend upon what their husband provides them to spend. This means that their livelihood depends entirely upon their husband’s grace. This poses a serious threat to their independence and economic freedom which is one of the reasons why they silently endure pain without any protest when subjected to domestic violence. We know that without financial autonomy, women will not have the confidence and capacity to fight against violence and discrimination. Therefore, empowering women economically is to give them the freedom to make choices that benefit them, their families, communities and the nation as a whole. 

Research from across the world has shown that women who earn and control their own money tend to have more power in the home and suffer less domestic violence. And when women earn, society as a whole stand to benefit because women spend more than men on children’s health and education (Pande, 2016). Therefore, it is imperative for women to be financially independent.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

Lisa Honan, Development Director, British Embassy Kathmandu, once summarized the RAP3 project, “RAP3 is more than just a road building project. It is an income generation project, as well as a woman empowerment project. Young women have been able to earn and contribute to their households”. Truly, RAP3 MHLR project has been able to empower local women and improve their economic condition in rural districts of Nepal. Especially, there were women in Mugu and Humla, who had never previously worked or participated in any community work or income-generating activities. When these women started earning money, they were able to gain recognition in their community and some have been able to send their children to school without depending on their husbands (who may choose to spend their wages on alcohol). RAP3 MHLR ensures that wage distribution is done as per the volume of work done, divided between all workers based on their attendance, irrespective of gender.  We hand out money directly into the hands of our workers, due to which, female workers receive the money they have earned directly and not through a male representative of the household.  This increases the ownership of money among female members which supports raising their confidence level. More importantly, these women RBG members are the perfect example that when women are able to earn their own living, the stereotypes of society and any domestic violence against them are challenged and reduced.

It was a proud moment when a group of female RBGs in Mugu and Humla shared, “RAP3 MHLR may not last forever in our village, but we are ready to be as self-dependent as we have been after the implementation of this project. We have experienced how important it is for us to be independent and know what it takes to live a happy and healthy life”. In fact, with the formation of RAP3 MHLR road construction and maintenance groups, many women who used to be confined to household chores have now been able to build social networks with other women in the village. With a group of friends outside the home, they are also able to help each other and can call on for emotional support in times of need.

This changing behaviour of our female RBGs in rural districts like Mugu and Humla is proof that the aim of change and social development is achievable when women are economically empowered. We cannot say that there won’t be struggles in the coming days for these women, but we’re hopeful that experiencing the gender-inclusive environment within RAP3 MHLR would spark a change - that they will not give up their independence, even after this project is complete. We are also hopeful that they will continue to strive to maintain what they have learnt and experienced from RAP3 MHLR.

This is a small example of RBG women who have got an opportunity in RAP3 MHLR project to experience the benefits of being financially independent. But, various examples around the world have clearly shown that economically independent women are more likely to prevent any possible violence against them. Therefore, today it’s high time we create an environment for girls and women in which they can thrive for a better tomorrow.

Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a positive step towards gender equality, poverty reduction, and overall sustainable development in the country. What are the different approaches for economic empowerment of women and girls in Nepal? Let’s discuss.

 

RAP3 MHLR advocates for women’s economic empowerment!

 

#Women’sFinancialAutonomy.

#AChangeisMust.

#16DaysChallenge.

#SupportWomen.

03 December 2020

Discussion Topic: Fight against patriarchal perceptions

 

For centuries, the aspects of patriarchy were systematically fed into the mindset of people in Nepal as in other parts of the world which is still prevalent despite after numerous accounts of social movements.  A male figure in the family and society took the sole lead in decision making while on the contrary, woman and even males of lower status were considered unimportant. The role of a woman was limited to providing care and support to a family.

 

A vivid example of patriarchy that led to male superiority could be seen in the local level elections 2017 of Nepal where for Chairperson/Mayor positions, mostly man got the ticket while in Vice-Chairperson/Deputy Mayor positions, women were mostly nominated by the political parties that too in the light of complying with constitution’s quota system. So, as expected, man bagged the most of the chief positions while woman occupied higher percentage of deputy positions. Reforms in constitution did pave a way for more participation of woman into political ecosystem giving a thrilling opportunity for women to make their voice heard like never before but society remained skeptical towards the contribution a woman could make as a politician. Male Superiority, which has burgeoned in the grip of patriarchy, is a malignant factor that is constantly precluding women’s succession to decision making positions in almost all institutions.

 

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

 

Most importantly, at a ground level, women Road Building and Road Maintenance Group members making wage earning of their own and deciding how to make use of the earned money gives immense boost to their confidence and subtly challenges the patriarchal setting of our society. RAP3 MHLR has been giving equal space and importance to rural men and women in every project work and local group meetings. With the project’s inclusive initiative, the old concept that only men should participate in community and development work in those rural districts has been improved and women seem to be involved not only in the project work but also in other activities in their community.

 

Kirsteen Merrilees, is working in the capacity of the Team Leader for RAP3 MHLR. For many other women, Kirsteen is an inspiration as she is leading delivery of a successful programme with a long history of inclusion being in the core of intended socioeconomic changes and infrastructure delivery. Kirsteen might be the Team Leader for RAP3 MHLR but she often visits the field, which gives a strong example to concerned stakeholders regarding the women leadership. The infrastructure sector is male dominated globally, and her example for women leadership could be followed in similar programmes in Nepal.

 

Attempts for small change at every level will help eradicate the deep-rooted patriarchal settings from our society in the days to come. What is your evolutionary approach to the problem of Nepal’s patriarchal society? Let’s discuss.

 

#TimeToAbandonPatriarchy.

#AChangeisMust.

#16DaysChallenge

#GenderDONOTDetermineSuperiority

02 December 2020

Discussion Topic: Support to end discrimination against marginalized women and girls

Nepal is a country diverse in religion, culture, ethnicity and language. In a diverse society, each group and community has its own kind of problems. Women in this country are already oppressed because of discrimination and social exclusion due to gender, and women from ethnic minorities and groups are especially so as they have to bear the burden of both caste and gender discrimination.

The constitution of Nepal has prohibited discrimination based on caste and sex. However, the caste structure still remains deeply ingrained in many rural parts of Nepal. Despite nationwide improvements in women’s education, health and other social services, women belonging to ethnic minorities and groups are still considered insignificant or powerless, hence, deprived of basic necessities. The negligence and discrimination of Nepali traditional society has made ethnic minority women more vulnerable and insecure. Due to lack of self-confidence, power, support, and security, they are more likely to be victims of various forms of violence, sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation. Their lower enrollment rates in education and employment opportunities also prevent them from having stable income or control over their earnings preventing them from securing resources that would support their resilience. 

Promoting the economic empowerment of marginalized women in Nepali society can be a major factor in achieving economic growth, confidence, education, health etc., which helps build sustainable and resilient communities for ethnic minority groups. Also, ensuring equal participation of marginalized women in the local decision-making process at all levels of the community can help increase their capacity and leadership skills. Overall, strengthening marginalized women as a whole is to empower them to fight against any form of violence and discrimination.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

One of the objectives of RAP3 MHLR is to empower women who are poor and marginalized through equal economic opportunities in road construction and maintenance.  During the selection process of local road building and maintenance groups, our project prioritizes to marginalized women. Providing marginalized men and women with equal opportunities to work with all groups in the community have encouraged them to come forward and participate equally in all kinds of community activities and meetings. In addition, strict project policies against discrimination, violence and unequal treatment encourage local workers to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their gender, religion, ethnicity or historical background.  The ability to bring all local workers from various backgrounds together and create harmony and peace not only in their work but also in their local community is a success of RAP3 MHLR.

In order to build a healthy and developed society, it is necessary to end the impacts of deeply engrained caste structures and cultures that disproportionately affect women and especially marginalized groups.

Despite the abolition of caste discrimination from the nation’s law, women belonging to ethnic minority groups continue to be the target of constant rejection, hatred and violence in their community.

How can we instigate change in every local community for the benefit and development of marginalized women in Nepali society? How to prevent all kinds of violence against them? Let’s discuss.

#SpeakUp

#SupportMarginalisedWomen

#16DaysChallenge

#GenderEquality

01 December 2020

Discussion Topic: We need to change the mindset ‘construction is for men’

Women’s participation in the construction sector is one of the areas where we see very low participation of women as the construction industry in Nepal (and worldwide) is heavily dominated by men. The need for extensive traveling, including to remote places led to men being more preferred for such kind of jobs. This narrative is necessary to understand why the environment within the construction industry is seemingly hostile towards women. While women did come out of their homes to take upon various job opportunities, the domain where they could work was squeezed. Especially within the construction industry, the prevalent mindset is that this job is more suitable for men given the various hardships demanded by this industry.

There are varieties of issues that female workers working in the construction sector in Nepal has to face, starting with viewing women as mere helpers of male workers. Women qualify as "unskilled" while men are trusted and given the opportunity to do more skilled jobs. A woman’s progression from unskilled to skilled is impeded. This leads to the second main issue which is the disparity in payment. The third issue is the lack of additional facilities like separate toilets, breastfeeding rooms, restrooms in the construction sites that would facilitate women to deliver their full potential. The construction industry demands huge labour input in developing countries like ours where we are yet to go through a major technological revolution. Further, it should be underscored that the women labour joining in the construction industry are generally from poor families and are mostly deprived of formal education which makes them susceptible to different forms of exploitation, for instance, unequal payment, sexual harassment, victims of social stigma, etc. This needs to be checked strictly as any form of exploitation, harassment and unequal treatment are not acceptable.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

One of the key objectives of RAP3 MHLR is to generate employment days by employing local people, both men and women in road maintenance and construction activities, in which a minimum of 33% of the labour force participation should be female. In fact, the project is doing good in terms of gender parity as we have nearly 50% women labour force actively working for the project. Not only does our project provide appropriate safety gear for women, it has worked with local manufacturers to provide safety gear that fits women better than the normal range available in the market.  This ensures women working on RAP3 MHLR have safe and equal working opportunities. Women have equal opportunities to participate in project feedback activities and various committees for oversight.  This allows them to take a leading role in helping the project make decisions and plans that make construction work opportunities more accessible and responsive to the needs of female workers.

Furthermore, menstruation hygiene is a major concern, especially in remote districts like Mugu and Humla where most female workers are unaware of menstrual hygiene management due to lack of knowledge, resources, and poor economic status. RAP3 MHLR noticed that maintaining menstrual hygiene for our women workers in these remote districts is an urgent need as it has a high potential to hinder women’s employment. Therefore, RAP3 MHLR conducted training on the sanitary pad making process enabling easy access of reusable pads for Road Building Groups (RBGs) members. The purpose of this training was to empower these local women to make reusable pads themselves that could enable them to maintain menstrual hygiene and allow them to work confidently on the construction site.

The RAP3 MHLR ensures the necessary security, support, and healthy environment to increase the number of women engineers and workers in construction work so that they can perform their tasks independently and be competent in their field of work. Also, the project has provided an opportunity for women workers in remote districts of Nepal who are rarely seen working on the road construction work, to improve their skills in the construction sector. If rural women were not allowed to work in the construction sector, simply because of their gender, they would have always been deprived of the construction jobs coming to their village which would reduce their employment opportunities in construction-related work. In conclusion, men and women should be given the same priority and preference in all kinds of work, so that they will have equal opportunities in all sectors. 

The critical challenge is- whether such strong safeguards to ensure strong participation and leadership of women in construction will be sustained and scaled up in the future or not.

Construction won’t be a difficult industry to work in for women if we can change the mindset ‘Construction is for men’.

What do you think of having so few women in the construction industry and what can be done about this? Let’s discuss. 

#SpeakUp

#PromoteWomeninConstruction

#16DaysChallenge

#GenderEquality

30 November 2020

 Discussion Topic: Stereotypes: Let’s not define Gender Role

“Women are to cater to the needs of the family” is the most common challenge that is entrenched among various hierarchies of Nepalese society from elite groups to underprivileged ones. With time, things are changing for good, as women and girls are eagerly taking up unprecedented opportunities in terms of education, jobs, financial independency, freedom, independent decision making etc. However, because of the well-established gender roles in Nepali society, women who are already doing jobs are still taking on most of the household and familial duties plus caring responsibilities. This Inequality in domestic work or “chore gap” can lead to feelings of unhappiness, anxiety and low self-esteem in women. In terms of empowering women, it is equally necessary to remove unfairness in the division of household labour in our traditional Nepali society.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

The remoteness of a place embroiled with poverty, lack of awareness and financial dependency has been plaguing the empowerment of women in Karnali (which is one of the most remote and neglected regions of Nepal). RAP3MHLR’s programme policy, to ensure and welcome the participation of women in the construction work as RMG, RBG, SMG members has been a marked social change. Women who used to confine themselves within their household chores are now making earning of their own. However, sometimes under the notion of predefined gender roles, women have to deliver extra work in the form of household chores in addition to road construction/maintenance work. This has happened because we as a society are still carrying forward the idea of gender roles which in this case is, that women are to solely take care of household chores, even today when time and factors have changed remarkably.

RAP3 MHLR is continuously making an effort in raising awareness among the workers that we do not have to abide by the unfairly defined gender roles that have a negative effect on the growth of both women and men. And, we have actually witnessed change in our working districts, however in small scale, where men have also started sharing household chores which they did not do before. A small wave of change has already been created and for this wave to progress further, everyone from every sector needs to join hands.

What is your view on changing stereotype/gender roles in Nepalese society? Let’s discuss.

RAP3MHLR advocates challenging gender roles!

#StopStereotypingGenderRole

#AChangeisaMust

#16DaysChallenge

#MyGenderdonotDefineMyRole

27 November 2020

While there have been some recent improvements regarding the employment opportunities for women in Nepal, there is still a concern if they are safe at work. There is awareness that women face significant challenges in their workplace but many organisations lack systematic interventions that creates a safe working environment for women in Nepal.  Even in developed countries, the cases of sexual harassment are very high. The condition is worse in developing countries like Nepal where most of the cases are unreported. Many women are forced to endure and work under anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem leading to the overall degradation in their physical and mental health and hence their productivity. There are organizations in Nepal who still do not have a department to report crimes against women as well as to educate the employees about sexual harassment. It is unfortunate that sometimes women are compelled to quit their jobs due to lack of legal protection in their workplace. In fact, gender diversity in the workplace really makes the organization a better place to work and, on the other hand, employment also benefits women, families and their communities. Therefore, every organization must discourage sexual harassment against women in the workplace and establish a department to educate workers against it and take action against those who commit it. Furthermore, the department also should ensure safety for women so that they will be confident to report when they are subjected to sexual harassment.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

RAP3 MHLR ensures a safe and equitable workplace for everyone working on the project. The RAP3 MHLR code of conduct clearly states that if there is any form of harassment or any attempt to harass, the project will have zero tolerance and necessary action will be taken immediately. In addition, RAP3 MHLR ensures that all project staff understand and comply with the project code of conduct, for which, we have an e-learning training course that is mandatory for all of our staff to complete within a given time. The e-learning training course includes various examples that make it easy for everyone to understand the different forms of violence and harassment that can be occurred at a workplace. At the end of the training, the staff are quizzed on the course to ensure they understood the contents. 

Furthermore, sometimes employees may not feel comfortable approaching the project directly for communicating with senior staff to share their problems confidently. To provide assistance during such a difficult time, we have staff representatives in each component who are always available to listen to our project staff and help resolve their problems. Therefore, any employee of the project can go to the staff representative and talk to them confidently if their work or mind is disturbed due to violence or any other reason at workplace.

If there is any sign of harassment inside your workplace - big or small - you should take action immediately and ensure proper procedures are in place to prevent it from happening again.

What are the various ways to make our workplace safe for women employees? Let’s discuss how we can play a vital role in promoting the safety of women workers in our organization.

RAP3MHLR is fully committed to safe working environment for women!

#SpeakUp

#PromoteSafeWorkingPlace

#16DaysChallenge

#GenderEquality

26 November 2020

Discussion Topic: The Right to Equal Pay for Equal Work

Nepal Government has made enormous progress on women’s rights over the last decades. Our constitution has guaranteed equal rights to men and women, but in practice, gender-based discrimination largely prevails in most of the sectors including in labor market. Gender wage gap is one such prominent example of structural gender discrimination faced by working women in Nepal. We have problem not only in wage discrimination but also inequality in terms of getting access to work. The number of females in workforce is nominally low because our patriarchal norms and values demoralize women to take part in labour force.

Furthermore, gender wage gap is also a key indicator that may increase the risk of violence against women as it discourages women from participating in the labour force. Therefore, eliminating the gender gap could encourage more women to become financially independent, which would increase gender equality and create a virtuous circle. [MT1] 

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

In RAP3 MHLR, we have equal payment system to our workers irrespective of their gender, which has been adopted by the programme since the beginning. The equal pay system of the project can strengthen our female workers, so that they can raise their voice in case of wage inequality while working somewhere in the future. In fact, paying equal wage to our male and female workers has played an important role in shaping their positive attitudes towards promoting gender equality within their community.

Gender payment gap has been around for too long and it takes a lot of effort to fight against this inequality from our individual level. However, collective bargain for equal wage could be an important part of the solution.  Also, there are many women in Nepal who are earning their livelihood through informal employment activities.  It is even more important to secure their equal pay rights by promoting the formalization of informal economy in the country.

In your opinion, how can we tackle this gender payment gap? Share your practical solutions to fight for equal pay.

RAP3MHLR is against unequal pay!

#SpeakUp

#EqualPayforEqualWork

#16DaysChallenge

#GenderEquality



 [MT1]Italic

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