KATHMANDU, Dec 9: The Delegation of the European Union to Nepal and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday announced the successful completion of a two-year project on combating Gender Based Violence (GBV). The project was designed to enhance women and girls’ continuous and uninterrupted access to gender-based violence support services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, evidence shows that there was a significant increase in cases of gender-based violence not just in Nepal, but the world over - further worsening gender inequality outcomes. Even before the pandemic, one in five women in Nepal aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and at least one in four ever married women has experienced spousal physical, sexual, or emotional violence (NDHS 2016).
The lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 meant entire families with reduced household income had to stay at home, which significantly increased the prevalence of domestic, and gender-based violence. The Madhesh and Karnali provinces have been the most affected primarily due to their low socio-economic indicators.
To address this, the Delegation of the European Union collaborated with the United Nations Population Fund and the Government of Nepal, to implement the ‘COVID-19 Crisis Response on GBV in Nepal’ project in selected districts in the Madhesh and Karnali provinces. The project worked to strengthen the services delivered by four One-Stop Crisis Management Centers and safe houses in the provinces to ensure that women and girls will receive multi sectoral GBV support services including health, shelter, justice and legal aid, psychosocial support, referral services, and protection.
Speaking at the event, the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the European Union in Nepal Dr. Joëlle Hivonnet stated that the project has made a big difference in the four targeted districts. “Thanks to the EU support, these communities now have access to effective services. The project has also helped raise awareness about what gender-based violence is and improve access to available services,” she said.
Also addressing the gathering, Won Young Hong, country representative of UNFPA Nepal stated that the world population has reached 8 billion, which means 8 billion more possibilities and opportunities for women and girls to stand up for their rights. “However, we have a long way to go to make this a reality for all. I am pleased that through this project, we have been able to directly support 10,499 GBV survivors to access essential and often lifesaving support services, while reaching 1,831,800 people to raise awareness on GBV prevention and response,” she said. “UNFPA remains committed to ensure that we reach all women and girls in Nepal, prioritizing the furthest and the farthest, to ensure we leave no one behind.”
At the event, the EU and UNFPA also confirmed their commitment to continue working together to end gender-based violence, including in Nepal. The EU announced a new EU-UN joint program signed with the government of Nepal and aimed at gender empowerment inter alia which will also address gender-based violence in Nepal. The new program will focus on the Madhesh, Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces in Nepal from 2023 to 2026. This program will be jointly implemented by ILO, UN Women, UNICEF and UNFPA. The European Union is one of the top 10 donors for UNFPA’s work worldwide.