Empowering Girls: 3rd Nawalpur Girls Summit 2023 Successfully Held!
Nawalpur, Gandaki Province, Nepal150 enthusiastic adolescent girls from four rural municipalities in Nawalpur district, and representatives from diverse regions including Chitwan, Kapilvastu, and Rupandehi celebratedthe International Girl Child Day 2023 by jointly leading and participating in third Nawalpur Girls Summit with the theme “Invest in Girls Rights, Our Leadership and Well Being,”. The summit aimed to celebrate and encourage the active participation of adolescent girls, address their concerns at the local level, educate communities about these concerns, provide a platform for sharing thoughts and experiences, and plan for future summits.
Rejina Gharti Magar, a girl activist and former peer educator of the Girls’ Empowerment Programme, hosted the summit, organized in Kawasoti Municipality. Th event was initiated with the national anthem, followed by a tribute to all girls who have encountered violence, serving as an emotional reminder of the ongoing challenges girls face globally. It was formally inaugurated by Chief Guest Honorable Padma G.C Shrestha and a girl representative from the Girls Rights Forum (GRF) Kapilvastu, symbolizing the event'scommencement through the ceremonial watering of flowers. Tilottam Paudel, Chairperson of Jagriti Child and Youth Concern Nepal, provided a concise yet speech. Mr. Paudel extended profound gratitude and a heartfelt welcome to all distinguished participants, and highlighted the importance of International Girl Child Day, observed globally on the 11th of October. He also clarified the purpose and rationale behind the 3rd Nawalpur Girl Summit, stressing its mission to address critical issues such as violence, sexual harassment, safety concerns, educational disparities, and the pervasive challenge of online bullying experienced by girls on a global scale. He concluded his address by encouraging both the attendees and the chief guest to actively participate in the program.
Peer educators from GEP and a girl representative from Kapilvastu, Gaidakot, featuring Preety Bhusal, Ichha Gurung, Anjana Bohara, Aashika Pokhrel, and Aastha Ghimire delivered a welcome song, expressing a desire for a girl-friendly local governance system, and end of all forms of violence. Ms. Rejina Gharti Magar moderated a panel discussion, initiating with the question "How do you remember your adolescent days?" Sunita Harijan, Girls Rights Forum from Rupandehi, thanked the moderator and shared her own story. She emphasized the importance of self-belief, advocating for the rights of girls, and working towards independence, while also offering support to fellow girls in their journeys.
Ms. Krishala, the President of the District Child Club Network in Gaidakot Municipality, shared her personal experiences and reflections from her teenage years as a girl during the discussion. She expressed appreciation for the platform and highlighted generational differences, emphasizing a shift from physical to mental abuse.Aasha B.K., a former peer educator from Devchuli Municipality, shared her inspiring journey as a girl activist and peer educator within the GEP. Expressing gratitude for the opportunities she received, she highlighted her experience of winning an international award in Taiwan, detailed the initial challenges she encountered and reflected on how her engagement in GEP transformed her experience as a girl. Her main message focused on initiating change from within and sustaining hope amidst challenges.
Gitu Gaire, a human rights activist from Devchuli Municipality, highlighted the challenges arising from gender discrimination and shared her personal encounters with stereotypes. Emphasizing the importance of creating platforms for girls to voice their experiences, she urged participants to persist in the pursuit of their dreams. Her central message focused on the encouragement to dream big and to speak up if feeling unsafe Alina K.C, Journalist, AP1 Television, from Devchuli Municipality discussed the opportunities girls have today compared to the past and the challenges she faced as a female journalist. She emphasized the importance of media in empowering girls and highlighted the positive impact of programs like the Girls' Empowerment Program (GEP) organized by Jcycn. Alina shared a personal experience of facing derogatory comments during a radio program and suggested organizing more programs like GEP. Her key message was to embrace life as a continuous learning process.
Manisha Paudel, a Girls' Rights activist from Kawasoti Municipality reflected on her adolescentexperiences, conveying a feeling of being excluded from the array of opportunities available to girls. Despite this, she acknowledged the crucial support she received from her parents. Her main message centered on the importance of pursuing one's dreams without succumbing to fear. Gandaki Province Member of Parliament, Padma G.C. Shrestha, reaffirmed her dedication to addressing child rights and adolescent rights at the policy level within the government. During her speech at the opening of the summit, she highlighted her commitment to actively participate in policy formulation for children and adolescents, reinforcing existing provincial policies and regulations. Furthermore, she emphasized the necessity for sustained efforts and underscored the crucial role adolescents play in shaping and executing policies relating to adolescent girl issues within the Gandaki Province Assembly. She said that the collaboration with relevant stakeholders, integrating their advice, engaging in discussions, and considering their suggestions is essential in the formulation of these policies.
The present stakeholders signed the commitment banner, affirming their dedication and promise to actively address the challenges faced by girls. Through signing this commitment, stakeholders pledged to prioritize and actualize initiatives promoting girls' empowerment, education, health, and rights. They acknowledged the importance of creating a supportive environment that enables girls to reach their full potential and thrive.
The dance performance by the young girls was a vibrant display of their talent, creativity, and deep passion for dance. Beyond mere entertainment, the performance also highlighted the remarkable potential and abilities of these girls, challenging stereotypes and fostering inclusivity. Ranju Pasi and Gunja Tharu from the Girls Rights Forum recited a poem about girls' literary prowess and artistic expression. Their heartfelt recitation and compelling delivery conveyed powerful messages of empowerment, resilience, and the significance of gender equality.
After the inaugural session, the second phase concluded with the announcement of a declaration paper containing 15 key points. Laxmidevi Pandey, Chairperson of Hupsekot Rural Municipality, Purnakala Chaudhary – Deputy Mayor, Madhyabindu Municipality, Nawalpur, Parvata Tiwari – Deputy Mayor, Devchuli Municipality, Nawalpur, Fhul Kumari Thanet – Deputy Mayor, Kawasoti Municipality, Nawalpur, Debaki Acharya (PhD) – Council member, Gandaki Academy and Founder member of Jcycn were among the prominent figures present. Debaki Acharya (PhD) initiated her address with a touching recitation of a poem, expressing gratitude to all the participants and the chief guest. Highlighting the importance of children's rights, she encouraged municipalities to effectively implement child-related policies. Shestressed the necessity for training programs for school nurses and brought attention to the disparities in data concerning girls and boys. She flowed a message of encouragement, wishing all participating girls never to relinquish their dreams and always to shine brightly.
The declaration event, aimed at raising awareness and influencing concerned parties and organizations, was presided over by Bidhya Dhungana, a former peer educator of GEP and the president of Nawalpur Girls' Network. Ms. Dhungana read the declaration aloud. Adolescent girls succinctly and directly presented their demands through this document. The Summit was coordinated by Jagriti Child and Youth Concern Nepal and Nawalpur Girls’ Network with support from KANALLAN, Garden of Hope Foundation, and CARE Nepal.
The event was held in collaboration with CZOP, WOREC, KIRDARC, 8 municipalities, Jagriti Child Club, Asian Girls Campaign, and in alliance with SPCSN, NCFLG Consortium, INSEC, Child Protection Network, Youth for Change, and CSO’s. The participants highlighted the importance of Girls' active involvement in sustainable development, conservation, wildlife protection and tourism development in Nawalpur. They also emphasized the need of increased involvement of girls in conservation campaign to enhance the participation and development of girls.
Pritam Karki, Chairperson of Jagriti Child Club Nepal, conveyed gratitude and appreciation to participants from diverse sectors. He underscored the crucial need to guarantee child rights and emphasized the importance of monitoring for the protection of child rights. He extended his best wishes for the ongoing event, expressing his full support for the cause of empowering and advocating for children's rights. The Nawalpur Girls Network expressed commitment to monitoring the progress of the program, engaging in discussions and reviews to ensure effective implementation, and strategizing future plans to further advance adolescent girls’ rights in society.
The first Girls Summit was held in Nawalpur in 2016, followed by the second Girls Summit in 2017 and 3rd in 2023.