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Thursday, 09 June 2022, Kathmandu, Nepal: The visiting Norwegian State Secretary (International Development) Hon. Bjørg Sandkjær reaffirmed the committment of the Government of Norway to support UNFPA’s efforts in promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ending gender-based violence (GBV) in Nepal.

Speaking during a visit to the UNFPA country office in Kathmandu and a subsequent visit to the One Stop Crisis Management Centre (OCMC) for GBV survivors at the Patan Hospital today, Hon. Bjørg Sandkjær stated “Norway is committed to protect and promote gender equality and women’s rights, including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.”

According to the 2016 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), one in five women in the country aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. Further, even though the legal age of marriage is 20, statistics indicate that child marriage remains prevalent in Nepal with over one in ten girls married by the age of 15. Moreover, Nepal has a high maternal mortality rate, and unmet family planning needs at 24%, which is particularly high amongst young people and marginalized groups. 

In supporting Nepal’s commitment to safeguard the rights of women and girls, UNFPA has been leading the charge to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and end all forms of violence against women and girls. In working towards this mandate, the Government of Norway has been a core contributor to UNFPA’s mission not just in Nepal but across other countries. 

Thanking the Government of Norway for its consistent support, Representative of UNFPA Nepal, Lubna Baqi, stated, “Nepal has come a long way in upholding the rights of women and girls, with progressive legislation, policies and plans in place. However, more needs to be done to implement these commitments including allocation of domestic resources to ensure services are up and running. The Government of Norway has been a firm partner of UNFPA in this journey. We are grateful to be working with the Royal Norwegian Embassy of Kathmandu to promote gender equality, empower survivors of GBV to seek essential services at UNFPA-supported OCMCs. We would not have been able to realize the positive outcomes in addressing GBV and harmful practices, in the absence of this support which has been instrumental in  carrying our mission forward.”

UNFPA Nepal is implementing the ‘Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Project (GBVPR) Phase II’, based on the successes of Phase 1 (2016-2020), supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu along with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The Government of Norway is also the fourth highest contributor for UNFPA’s work worldwide.