Remarks by Hon’ble Sujata Koirala, Member of Parliament, Central Committee Member of the Nepali Congress, and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal at the 4th meeting of Women’s Wing of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) on September 2, 2016 on the sidelines of 9th General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel it an honor to address the fourth inaugural meeting of the Women’s Wing of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in this beautiful and dynamic city of Kuala Lumpur.
I bring with me hearty greetings from Nepal, my party-Nepali Congress, and its Women wing ‘Nepal Mahila Sangh’ to the people of Malaysia, government and fellow delegates and their best wishes for the success of this meeting.
I welcome you all to this meeting, and express our sincere thanks to the representatives of political parties and institutions from various countries outside Asia, including the Permanent Conference of Political Parties in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Council of African Political Parties. Thank you for your support and solidarity.
I thank the friendly people and government of Malaysia for their warm hospitality and also for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting.
I would like to express our sincere thanks to His Excellency Dato Seri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, and Chairman of the National Front and President of the United Malays National Organization, for their support of this historic gathering.
We are meeting here at an important juncture of our time. There has been a massive social awakening around the world. We see politics being more radicalized. It is sad to note that at a time when our priorities would have been poverty eradication, elimination of deprivation and discrimination, increase in health and education facilities and promotion of human rights, we are confronted by transnational challenges including arms race, human trafficking and increasing activities of violent extremism and terrorism. These are common threats, and we have to come together and work together to overcome these challenges.
No society can prosper without protecting women’s rights and giving them due honor and respect in the society. Asian tradition gives respectful place to women. Our epics and scriptures mention priority given to them. Though there came fundamental disadvantages for women limiting their freedom and autonomy, equality of rights, equality of opportunities, equality of voices, employment opportunities, access to resources, they are fast disappearing. It is our responsibility to ensure that violence against women and girls is eliminated and they be provided with education and health facilities. We must forge better partnerships here and at other regional and international forums for concerted and collaborative actions. These actions must be fully backed by resources to ensure decent work to girls and women.
Human trafficking has emerged as the modern form of slavery. As we deliberate here, we find media reports replete with gang rape and sexual abuse and exploitation of women and girls. Community engagement will be a good response to halt growing violence and harassment against women. Migrant workers have been subjected to torture and sexual abuse and several forms of exploitation. We need to have a widespread awareness raising campaign, community mobilization programs and also sensitization of media about the issues. Let us be clear that no laws, however sound and clear work on their own. A visionary leadership, a strong political leadership, a unifying leadership and transformational leadership is needed to protect women and girls from violence of all kinds and empower them with all prerequisites. Actions need to match our words of promises and commitments.
Comprehensive efforts are needed to see sustained results at national, regional and global levels. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has adopted the SAARC Social Charter and the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating the Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution. They demonstrate members’ collective resolve to treat the trafficking of women and children as criminal offence of serious nature. However, fair implementation of these mechanisms calls for a coordinated, integrated, and sustained approach for the empowerment of women and girls, and fix accountability of perpetrators and render justice to victims with reliefs. Sharing best practices among ourselves, regional partners and with the larger international community provides insights to enrich the process. We must stand by our commitments for a better world for about half of the population that is women.
We need to have enough budget and resources earmarked for capacity building. Investment in girl and women is an investment for peace, security, democracy, and development. Vulnerable groups and victims should be extended advocacy and legal services. , and counseling and support services.
Before I conclude, let me briefly touch on the current situation in my country.
Having fought severe forms of authoritarianism in the country several times in the past, we in Nepal are now engaged in implementing an inclusive democratic constitution promulgated through an elected Constituent Assembly. My party Nepali Congress strongly believes that building democratic institutions and adherence to the rule of law remain a precondition to ensure lasting peace, security, reconciliation, and development in any society country. Our constitution guarantees women’s fundamental rights and has put in place institutional safeguards in laying a strong foundation for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Women leaders in various political parties in Nepal remain engaged in this very task. I am happy to report that the first ever popularly elected government in 1959 in Nepal led by my party had the woman as health minister. At present, we have women as head of the state, judiciary and legislative. All political parties have women wings. Women participate with considerable zeal and dedication. Constitution makes it mandatory for all parties to reserve certain percentage of seats for women. State pursues a policy of positive discrimination in education, health, income generation and peace promotion activities for minorities including women and the victims of conflict.
With these words, I once again thank our host for their generous hospitality and wish the conference a success.