Nepal: Change Starts at Home: The Gender Quality Circle

Background

With the aim of promoting “Gender Equality and

Women’s Empowerment” GIZ Nepal moved forward

with a strong belief that change begins at home.

Accordingly, immediately after the establishment

of the Gender Quality Circle (GQC), it focused on

gender equality and women’s empowerment within

the organization. Early experiences have provided

a strong foundation for GQC to mainstream gender

in sector-focused programmes despite the complexities.

Below are glimpses of the achievements

of GQC Nepal in terms of “Gender Equality and

Women’s Empowerment”.

 

“I used to feel awkward when my husband

tried to help me in the kitchen. I thought this

was a woman’s job only. However, since the

GIZ Training on Gender Sensitization, I take

his help willingly and sometimes even remind

him to give me a hand. I have also realized

that I can be active in the public sphere too. I

started exploring my opportunities outside the

house and realized how much I have missed

in my life.”

– Manamaya Dongol, Spouse of a support staff

 

 

After her successful participation in the GIZ gender

sensitization training, Manamaya draws her

personal conclusions about the changes in her

family life. Manamaya and her husband Pradhuman

are among the 52 participants who had the

opportunity to reflect on their own behaviour that is

influenced by gender based discrimination deeply

rooted in the society. A one day sensitization training

was organized in 2011 by GQC Nepal for support

staff and their spouses with the objective of

guiding them on gender based discrimination issues

and coping mechanisms.

With 125 ethnic groups speaking over 123 languages,

population dynamics in Nepal are as diverse as

its geography. Hence, promoting Gender Equality

and Women’s Empowerment has been a formidable

challenge as one needs to understand the issue

from a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic perspectivecoupled

with religious philosophies and a patriarchal

system. In such socio-cultural context, certain

groups, women in particular, have always been

marginalized in mainstream development efforts

and benefits. Taking this situation into consideration,

GIZ Nepal has put tremendous efforts to promote

gender equality and women’s empowerment

in its programmes and projects. The GQC Nepal

was formed according to the GIZ Guidelines to ensure

that such efforts are efficient and effective.

GQC Nepal believes in the principle that: “without

addressing caste and gender based discriminations,

the goals of development cannot

be achieved”. GQC members are from the programmes

implemented by GIZ Nepal and the gender

focal person at the country office plays the role

of the coordinator.

The regular meeting of GQC (mostly once in two

months) have emerged as a powerful platform for

innovative ideas on gender equality and women’s

empowerment in programme activities both internally

– within the organization and its programmes,

and externally. For the success of this endeavour,

the GQC Nepal actively supports individual programmes

to internalize gender equality and women’s

empowerment among team members and to

mainstream gender issues in programme activities.

The major activities of GQC includes organizing

orientation on GIZ Gender Strategy to programmes

and projects, stocking of existing policies and strategies

related to gender in various sectors and

conducting gender analysis and gender baseline

studies. The GQC support is not limited to just developing

plans for mainstreaming gender in the

programme activities. It also extends to implementation,

monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, GQC

members use this platform to share the on-going

activities in their respective programmes not only to

share the achievement but also to receive feedback

and support each other in devising ways forward.

 

The Major Achievements of GQC

1. Sexual Harassment Policy

GIZ Nepal is one of the pioneer countries to introduce

a policy against sexual harassment at the workplace.

The policy has been in place at GIZ Nepal

since 2005 to ensure a harassment-free work environment.

A session on the policy has been an integral

part of the orientation course organized annually

for newly recruited GIZ national personnel. During

the course, the participants are thoroughly oriented

on the issues of sexual harassment and on reporting

mechanisms, in case of occurrences. The GQC Coordinator

fills the function of ombudsperson.

Further, a survey on sexual harassment at the workplace

in GIZ Nepal was conducted in 2014 with

twin objectives: a) to assess the current situation of

sexual harassment at the workplace in GIZ Nepal, if

any; and b) to identify measures that would improve

the workplace environment at GIZ. The results of the

survey ensured the existence of a harassment free

work environment within GIZ Nepal.

 

“It was encouraging to know that GIZ Nepal

had already put in place a sexual harassment

policy which was discussed during the Gender

Focal Point Meeting in Eschborn in 2012.”

– Scherazade Siganporia, GIZ India

 

The survey and its results have been an exemplary

process in ensuring a sexual harassment free workplace.

While GIZ offices around the world have commended

the effort, the survey has also served as

an example for the Government of Nepal and nongovernmental

organizations in the country to ensure

the enforcement of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace

(elimination) Act promulgated earlier this year.

 

2. Human Resource Policy

While recruiting new personnel, GIZ Nepal encourages

women (and deprived) candidates to apply by

explicitly stating it in the vacancy announcements.

GQC has been closely coordinating with the Human

Resource Unit to ensure that this is observed

in the entire recruitment process. Despite the existence

of such policy, fewer women candidates are

available in the job market. To address such situation,

GIZ Nepal provides internship opportunities

for members of marginalized groups, particularly

women, to learn, grow, and become competitive in

the job market. Candidates from 18 to 30 years with

an intermediate degree from an accredited university

are encouraged to apply for a six month paid

internship at GIZ Nepal. Further, the programmes/

projects with a team of more than five professional

staff are obliged to hire at least two interns per year.

Following the policy, 76% out of 80 interns recruited

in past five years for different GIZ-supported programmes

are female.

 

“I have been able to handle my duties and

responsibilities efficiently with confidence in a

multicultural environment. I owe my documentation

skills, for which I am often commended,

to the time spent with GIZ Nepal. These skills

have enabled me to get a job in an NGO”

– Sumita Rai, former Intern

 

The positive discrimination towards recruitment of

female staff within the organization is substantiated

by the size of the female workforce within GIZ Nepal.

Looking at the records of the national personnel

for the past six years, the ratio of female staff to

total national staff has remained approximately one

fourth. Out of the total number of female staff, more

are clustered in Band 2 and Band 3 outnumbering

male staff in the same category. The number of female

staff in Band 4 has remained one third of total

staff in the same band. However, in 2015 there has

been progress as the female staff in Band 5 has

reached 50%. The GQC is closely working with the

HR unit to ensure gender balance in the GIZ Nepal

national personnel.

 

3. Orientation and Training on Gender Issues

To ensure a common understanding on gender issues

within GIZ Nepal, GQC Nepal has been periodically

organizing orientation programmes on

gender issues. One of the most frequent topics for

the orientation programme has been the GIZ Gender

Strategy (2010) and its six strategic elements.It

is an integral part of the orientation programme for

every newly recruited staff. The other frequent topic

for orientation has been devising gender mainstreaming

on different programme/project activities

particularly in the initial phase of the programmes.

In order to enable a non-Nepali to understand the

cultural dimension of social inclusion in Nepal, an

orientation programme was organized for international

staff of GIZ Nepal. The orientation programme

was aimed at increasing the understanding

and awareness concerning caste hierarchy,

ethnicity, gender and negative stereotypes and

prejudices about marginalized groups in Nepal.

 

“The event gave shape to the understanding

of the cultural roots and impacts of exclusion.

Moreover, the Human Development Index

data made the exclusion of disadvantaged

groups even more measurable and conclusive.

Interesting to note, that gender inequality

is even more distinct in the context of culturally

disadvantaged groups. The situation calls

for a removal of barriers to improve the access

of the disadvantaged to development opportunities.

However, the long history and complexity

of the mechanisms of exclusion makes it

difficult to formulate a conflict

sensitive inclusion policy‟.

-Dr. Rolf Posorski, former Chief Technical

Adviser

 

GQC has been supporting its members to get updated

oninternational trends and development on

the issue of gender not only through discussions

in regular meetings but also by coordinating participation

in international workshop and meets. In

addition to its staff members, GQC members have

been active in organizing Gender related training

for its partners.

 

4. Concept Notes and Gender Focused Documents

For a common understanding on gender related issues,

GQC has also been instrumental in developing

concept notes on various issues. Recently, it

has developed a draft concept note to streamline

the efforts and initiatives of GIZ Nepal to achieve

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in

its development efforts. The GESI concept paper

has two specific purposes 1) to create a common

understanding of the two mostly used terminologies

“Gender Equality” and “Social Inclusion”, and

2) to provide the programmes with a common

framework to reflect and report their GESI related

activities.With these common understanding, it is

expected that the programme will conduct more

cohesive activities towards addressing the issues.

Earlier, the concept notes were also developed on

various other issues including GQC: its formation,

roles and responsibilities and Sexual Harassment

Policy. GQC has also provided support to individual

programmes in preparing gender related documents

on the programmes including policy paper,

guidelines and studies.

 

5. National Conference

Leading ministries personnel and other public and

private institutions, experts and journalists actively

participated in the National Conference. The Conference

focused on sharing the current situation in

the country and deciding on future activities for identifying

the role that men could play in promoting gender

equality in the country. The Conference was one

of the activities conducted with the available special

fund for gender focused activities in 2011.

 

“The nature of the household governance and

family represents the nature of the national

governance. The government is ready and

committed to engage men for gender equality”.

– Mr.Yubraj Bhushal, Former Secretary, Ministry

of Forest and Soil conservation

 

Conclusion

The above achievements of the GQC have demonstrated

how an inclusive environment can be created

within an organization and how it can reflect

in its activities. The active participation of GQC

members in promoting Gender Equality and Women’s

Empowerment within the organization has enhanced

both their capacity and their confidence in

mainstreaming gender equality and women’s empowerment

in programme activities. This is clearly

demonstrated through the quality of the work of GIZ

Nepal that ensures sustainability of its endeavours.

 

The regular exchange of knowledge and experiences

withinthe GQC has been helpful to myself

personally and to my programme.

– Mr. Ujjwal Karmacharya, Senior Programme

Officer/ Gender Focal Point, Health Sector Support

Programme

 

As many others in Nepal, Manamaya, who participated

in the Gender Sensitization Training is now

sharing with the new generation a mechanism to

develop a deeper self-esteem that she has learnt

from the GQC. “The GIZ training should have

been provided a long time ago, I am almost old

now and I learnt such valuable things only recently.

I think that it’s not only me, but the whole

society who benefits from such changes towards

an inclusive and equal community.”

Even if that sometimes means to change one’s

habits as her husband Pradhumna can tell:

“My wife now asks me to help her with washing

clothes which I personally hate to do. But I help

her anyways.”

 

Texts:

Ms. Milu Shree Shakya (Maskey),

Senior Programme Officer, GIZ Office

(GQC Coordinator)

 

Dr. Sanjay Gorkhali,

Senior Programme Officer, Nepal Energy

Efficiency Programme (GQC Member)

 

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