Girls face barriers in accessing education, health, safety: Report

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 1, 2017-US Ambassador Alaina B Teplitz on Thursday unveiled the “Nepal Adolescent Girls’ Empowerment Assessment” report that identifies critical barriers that Nepali adolescent girls face in accessing education, health, and safety.  

Findings of the report indicate common barriers for adolescent Nepali girls include entrenched discriminatory gender norms, lack of funds for school, arranged marriages, lack of support for menstrual hygiene management and proper latrine facilities at school, unsafe school environments, limited job opportunities, and the lack of positive female role models in the lives of teenage girls to inspire and influence them.

The report, which was launched coinciding with the marking of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” indicates that gender discrimination plays an influential role for girls in trying to complete secondary school education, as girls face obstacles that their male siblings and peers do not experience. 

“They are less likely to receive help from teachers, particularly those who struggle in school, and are more likely to be ridiculed in class, or endure episodes of sexual harassment and abuse,” says the report. “These barriers do not exist exclusively in the classroom. 

At home, many girls face heavy burdens of household chores and responsibilities, the looming threat of early marriage, and families who devalue their educational 

pursuits--all of which significantly decrease their chances to succeed in school and in life. Both boys and girls participating in the study spoke repeatedly about discrimination among sons and daughters, especially with respect to family investments in their sons’ educations while overlooking their daughters’.” 

Laying stress on the importance of empowering young women in Nepal, Ambassador Teplitz said: “Any effort to improve educational opportunities for girls must engage parents and communities by addressing discriminatory social norms like early marriage or the stigma surrounding menstruation, and reinforce the value of girls’ education as a means to a successful future not only for themselves, but also for their families, their communities, and their country.” 

She also underscored the need to change individual attitude to bring about a wave of social and cultural transformation. 

“Change begins in each of us. While transformational change does not happen overnight, we cannot afford to wait for broad elements of society to decide it is time to act,” said Teplitz.

The event also had a panel discussion with young Nepali women--Mira Rai, ultra runner; Irina Sthapit, who leads Karkhana’s Innovator’s Club for adolescent girls; and Nikita Acharya, CEO of the e-commerce portal, Urban Girl. They shared their personal stories of overcoming gender-based challenges to achieve success. 

Published: 01-12-2017 07:39

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