Nepal: UPDATE: 18 new District Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Networks Formed

An update from the Women's Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) on the ongoing activities of forming WHRD networks, an essential component of the WHRD National Campaign.
From 15 June - 6 August 2007, 18 new WHRD networks were formed namely Central Development Region (Chitwan), Western Development Region (Kaski, Baglung, Parbat, Gorkha,Myagdi, Lamjung, Rupandehi, Argakachhi, Kapilvastu, Nawalaparasi, Palpa and Gulmi), Mid Western Development Region ( Banke) and Far Western Development Region ( Dadeldhura, Kanchanpur, Accham, Doti and Kailali).
In all the aforementioned districts, WOREC Nepal had organized a mass gathering of active WHRDs engaged in defending and advocating their rights and the rights of the other women at the grassroots level. The mass gathering was attended by WHRDs from the government sector such Women Development Officers, SSP, DSP, active women Politicians, Dalits, Indigenous, Women with disabilities, Teachers, Youths, Medical Personnel, Laywers, Community Based organizations, NGO representatives etc.

The WHRDs active in the community shared their concerns and issues. They expressed that due to lack of recognition of their work as human rights work, they stressed on the need of their work to be recognized. It was also added how their activities are hindered due to lack of conceptual understanding on women's human rights and gender equality of the stakeholders. Some WHRDs shared their stories on how they face discrimination and violations while defending the rights of other vulnerable women. They voiced their solidarity for their work to protect and security.

In addition, the participants initiated to form a WHRD network that will be a unique link for all the WHRDs to discuss, strategize,nd form a support mechanism to protect themselves.

The gathering was also attended by two active WHRDs within the Police Sector who were invited as Chief Guests and they expressed the need for the formation of such networks. The guests included active women politicians from at least five political parties. All the members also stressed on the need of formation of such networks that speaks for the rights of women defending the rights of other women. They also stressed that women should be organized and committed to defend their rights.

Dr. Renu Rajbhandari, Chairperson of WOREC added that history of Nepal clearly reflects the contribution of Women Activists ever since the movement against autocratic Rana rule, walking in solidarity with men during the people's movement, role of women during the Social and human rights movement, maoist movement etc. however there is lack of recognition and value of the work done by Women. Women's work has still not been recognized as the work of a human rights defender. The Parliament declared 33% of the representation of women in all sectors of the government however it has not been realized that it is the right of the women to be represented in all forms of the government but due to the patriarchal norms and attitude, it has been "given" to women.

Towards the end, the participants of the respective districts formed a district chapter that has a committee of 9-12 members. The committee consists of a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary and Vice Secretary.