Keynote speech by the President of Nepal Right Honourable Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari at Reykjavík Global Forum – Women Leaders
Reykjavik, Iceland, 09 November 2022
First Lady of Iceland Her Excellency Eliza Jean Reid
President and Founder of the Women Political Leaders Ms. Silvana Koch-Mehrin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me in this global forum of women leaders. Coming from Nepal to Iceland, mine has truly become a journey from the “Third Pole” to the North Pole. I bring you warmest greetings of the Nepali people from the land of Lord Buddha and Mount Everest.
The three-dimension approach of ‘communication, connection, and community’ of this Forum is showing a beacon of light for gender equality. For us, this Forum is also an occasion to celebrate our long journey of struggle for equality, voice, representation, and participation.
As the world faces numerous challenges today, it is more important than ever that women’s perspectives be brought to the fore of decision-making process. It is a mother, a wife, and a daughter who are most affected by any crisis. More so, in the global south.
Most recently, Covid-19 pandemic amply demonstrated that marginalized communities are most vulnerable during crises. And climate change is no different. Today, climate emergency has become an existential threat for us.
In Nepal, the impacts of climate change have been more visible and devastating with each passing year. Glaciers are receding, and permafrost is melting in the Himalayas, posing threats to lives and livelihood of millions of people. Extreme climate events have increased, causing huge loss to economy, ecology and human lives.
Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change, and one of the most resource-constrained. We are bearing a disproportionate burden compared to our negligible share in greenhouse gas emissions. Yet our commitment to climate action is robust. We are determined to implement Paris Agreement and have announced to reach a net zero emission by 2045. Towards this end, we call for transparent mechanism and fast-track provisions for resources, transfer of technology, and capacity-building support.
In Nepal, now we are on course of institutionalizing an inclusive democracy that has well embodied principles of human rights, equality, non-discrimination, inclusion, and social transformation.
To bring about an equal and just society, we continue investing in education, public health, employment, and inclusive socio-political arrangements.
We do have solid constitutional foundation that guarantees at least one third representation of women in the federal Parliament and provincial legislatures.
Through recently held elections, women occupy 41% of elected political offices at local governments. Participation and representation of women has also increased in other fronts such as civil service, security agencies, cooperatives and private corporations.
Nonetheless, we still have a long way to go to attain gender parity in our national life. We still have battles to win against all forms of gender-based violence, prejudices and stereotypes. On this, our commitment and efforts are unwavering and sincere.
As I speak in this forum, I have in my mind all those women who have gone through hardships and sufferings befallen on them due to poverty, underdevelopment and deprivation. Those women who have had to break the barriers of many kinds to better their lives and the lives of their children.
And I am deeply honoured today to represent these brave women across generations. Honoured to be a part of this collective mission to create an inclusive society where men and women decode the world’s challenges as equals.