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Krishni Tharu, Deputy Speaker of Province 5, had the rapt attention of parliamentarians as she shared her childhood experiences. 

“I myself have suffered consequences of child marriage for many years. Becoming a child bride was the most painful experience of my life.”

“Today, you and I are in a privileged position to help enforce the existing legislation to prevent child marriage and draft strong laws and policies as required,” she said, addressing an event attended by parliamentarians of Province 5 in Butwal on 12 May.

At an interaction on “Reproductive Health, Gender Equality, Population and Adolescent Issues for Sustainable Development”, organized by the Provincial Assembly and UNFPA, the Deputy Speaker said efforts aimed at preventing gender-based violence, child marriage and other harmful practices won’t pay off unless all stakeholders work together. She also called for a collaborative action on women and girls’ access to education, sexual and reproductive health information and services, and social empowerment. 

Parliamentarian Rina Nepal BK agreed: “The life-skills training programme rolled out in several villages of Kapilvastu has made strides in reducing teenage pregnancies, keeping girls in school and empowering them with the right information to make their own choices.” I see a great scope for rolling out this training in other places our Province, targeting marginalized communities.”  

Parliamentarians Rina Nepal BK (right) and Dr Purna Man Bajracharya (left) together with other two lawmakers listening to a session by resource person of the event, Associate Prof of Tribhuvan University Bidhan Acharya. © UNFPA Nepal/SC

Parliamentarians play a crucial role in creating laws and policies, and in ensuring accountability for their implementation and enforcement.

UNFPA Deputy Representative for Nepal Kristine Blokhus pointed out that "parliamentarians have worked hard to draft and pass protective legislation and policies in Nepal. This is a great step towards gender equality. But more work is required to make sure these laws and policies are implemented and enforced." For this, however, the assembly members expressed their concern over the lack of timely, reliable, and disaggregated data for provincial development planning, and requested UNFPA’s support.

Present on the occasion were a total of 25 parliamentarians of Province 5 with 12 districts where 27.9 percent of currently married women age 15-49 have unmet need for family planning, more than the national average (23.7 percent).

Similarly, 57 percent of the births are assisted by skilled health providers and 29 percent of the married women age 15-49 experience physical, sexual and emotional violence committed by their spouses.