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The flagship event of SheDecides Day 2019 concluded in Kathmandu on 2 March 2019 with a firm commitment from participants to advance the movement in their home countries, and plans taking shape in Nepal to build local momentum.

Inaugurating the event, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Population Updendra Yadav, on behalf of the government, expressed a commitment to promote sexual and reproductive health and family planning to all women. He called on all stakeholders to stand up and speak out in every possible way they can in order to make sure a woman and a girl can decide about her body, her life and her future.  

The event attracted around 200 friends and champions, as well as high-level participants representing governments, civil society, development community and youth organizations from the Asia-Pacific region, alongside global leaders of the movement.

“Nepal has good laws and policies to allow women and girls to exercise their human rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Now we will focus on more the implementation of these laws and policies,” Minister Yadav added.

The participants discussed how they stand up and speak out on the rights of women and girls to decide about their bodies; explored plans to change the laws, rules and social norms that stand in the way of women’s autonomy; and to unlock the necessary resources to make it a reality.

“What an amazing start to SheDecides Day 2019! This dynamic global movement is now taking root throughout Asia,” says SheDecides Chairperson Tikhala Itaye.

Co-hosted by ARROW and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the SheDecides Day flagship event received support from the Government of Nepal and UNFPA, as well as ARROW’s local partner in Nepal, the Beyond Beijing Committee.

Executive Director of ARROW, and global SheDecides Champion, Sivananthi Thanenthiran said, “SheDecides is an important movement for countries in Asia-Pacific including Nepal.  The Asia-Pacific region, where we work, is home to 60% of the world's people and women. Nearly 42% of maternal deaths - 139,550 women die yearly from pregnancy and child birth related causes – happens in our region.” “Much work needs to be done to improve women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. But when we combine our voices and our strengths and stand together, we can help create a world where every girl and woman can decide what to do with her body, with her life and with her future. Without question.”

IPPF Director General Dr Alvaro Bermejo expressed his excitement that IPPF was co-host to the event, saying: “It signifies the coming together of diverse personalities and organizations to support a movement for a world where every women owns the right to do what she chooses with her body, her life and her future. A world that is better, stronger and safer. This is one of the first global SheDecides events in Asia, and recognises the significant progress and pro-rights SRHR environment enabled by the Government of Nepal.”

The SheDecides movement was launched two years ago. Within this period, it has rapidly evolved from a hashtag, to a one-day conference, into a global political movement driving change, fuelled by community action, and with young people at its heart, reaching 183 countries, with over 120,000 individuals and organisations. Its principles are grounded on the Programme of Action that emerged from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

UNFPA Regional Director Bjorn Andersson.

“ICPD was a genuine revolution. Despite this agreement, millions of women and girls have yet to see these promises fulfilled. We must accelerate efforts to realize the reproductive health and rights of all people, everywhere – and especially women and girls,” said UNFPA Regional Director Bjorn Andersson. “The SheDecides movement is so crucial to the success of ICPD.”

2019 is the 25th anniversary of ICPD, with UNFPA and its partners focused on marking the decisions taken at Cairo that shaped the possibilities of future generations. The flagship event brought together, for the first time, the “25x25”: 25 young leaders, from 25 different countries, all born in 1994, who will play a vibrant role in speaking about the changes and opportunities created by ICPD – and the distance to go in the next 25 years to achieve the vision of the SheDecides manifesto.

Sabina Pokharel from Nepal is among the 25x25 and has been energised by meeting the other advocates from 25 different countries. "Twenty-five years ago, the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women were recognised by ICPD. And I was born! We are all excited and empowered to take this journey of gender equality and get to a world where SheDecides about her sexual life, her reproductive rights in all our countries and throughout the region," she said.

The 25x25 gathered Maitighar Mandala, in the middle of Kathmandu to mark SheDecides Day 2019. This is the monument chosen for groups to gather to demand change, and was the site for encouraging people from across Nepal to sign up as Friends of SheDecides and to mobilise society to take action.

“What an amazing start to SheDecides Day 2019! This dynamic global movement is now taking root throughout Asia. We have received such a warm welcome by the Government of Nepal, community groups and remarkable young leaders,” said SheDecides Chairperson Tikhala Itaye. “Nepal is showing such extraordinary leadership, with progressive laws, strong political commitment and vibrant community actors. We look forward to Nepal - and all the countries of the region - creating the new normal where SheDecides Without Question!”

Nepal’s Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Tham Maya Thapa.

Closing the event, Nepal’s Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Tham Maya Thapa said, "Patriarchal mindset is holding women back. Together, we must ensure women and girls thrive." She urged all concerned to come together to talk about the SheDecides movement and promote it widely.