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Parliamentarians of Province 2 across party lines committed to promoting human rights of women and girls, particularly their reproductive rights, by introducing effective laws, while calling on all stakeholders to invest substantially in girls’ education and ensure access to maternal health and family planning services.

Such commitment and call came during an interaction with parliamentarians on reproductive health, gender equality, population and sustainable development organized by the Provincial Assembly of Province 2 and UNFPA, the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency, in Janakpurdham on 10 March 2018.

Parliamentarian Manju Yadav speaking at the event.

“We are responsible for legislating. Federalism is an opportunity for us to enact Province-specific laws. Now time has come to integrate the major principles of the Programme of Action agreed at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in relevant provincial laws to ensure access of women living in the eight districts of our Province to reproductive health and rights, promote their empowerment, and educate girls” said Parliamentarian Manju Yadav.

She further said, “If you look at indicators, Province 2 is faring poorly. This calls for tough laws and their effective implementation as well as good investments.” Nearly one in three women experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime in Province 2. Unmet need for family planning among currently married women age 15-49 in the Province is 20.6 percent and less than half of the deliveries are conducted by skilled health providers. She further emphasized that Nepal is the signatory to many international agreements and conventions such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the ICPD Programme of Action and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and now is the opportunity to demonstrate accountability in its implementation.

Lawmaker Ashok Yadav.

Lawmaker Ashok Yadav noted that federalism is a long-cherished dream of many people, which is an opportunity to empower marginalized communities and people. “Unless we draft laws reflecting the grim reality facing Province 2, we will not realize federalism in a real sense”, he said, calling for a collaboration among provincial and municipal governments as well as development partners in matters of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Parliamentarian Kareena Begum, another speaker at the event, asked a packed hall of 107 participants, among them 31 lawmakers “why is it that the majority of married women in our community are still unable to determine the number of children they want?” She said there are lots of issues that need to be fixed.  

Parliamentarian Kareena Begum.

Similarly, lawmakers Surita Sah and Ram Kumar Yadav as well as State Minister for Economic Affairs Usha Yadav stressed the need for a united stand among all stakeholders to uphold and promote women’s reproductive health and rights.

Speaker of the Provincial Assembly Saroj Kumar Yadav, Chief Guest of the event, expressed the relevance of the programme to parliamentarians and, emphasized the need to strengthen knowledge in the development of policies and strategies relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. He appreciated lawmakers’ stand against several forms of discrimination existing in the society. “I look forward to working with all of you to draft laws necessary to deal with these issues.”

Speaker of Provincial Assembly, Province 2, Saroj Kumar Yadav (left) and UNFPA Representative Lubna Baqi (right).

UNFPA Representative Lubna Baqi called on the parliamentarians to ensure a meaningful participation of women and young people in the formulation of laws and policies. “UNFPA is committed to working closely with all national, provincial and municipal counterparts as well as sister UN agencies to ensure a coherent and coordinated response to address the priorities and needs at the local level and help advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.