Nepal: An array of measures to tackle gender-based violence

Project completed
Group photo of the participants from above
Participants of a 16-day training of trainers (ToT) course on empowering girls in July 2017 © UNFPA

Gender-based violence is a widespread problem in Nepal, and an obstacle to sustainable development. The SDC and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched a 3-year prevention and response project at the beginning of 2016. Women and girls are learning about their rights and being encouraged to report assaults. Men and boys are being encouraged to change their behaviour towards women. And duty bearers are learning to respond more rapidly and effectively. The project is already delivering first encouraging results.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Human rights
Sexual & gender-based violence
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
01.02.2016 - 31.12.2020
CHF  3’743’000

The project is aimed at 120,000 households in three of Nepal's 75 districts: Okhaldhunga – a priority region for the SDC severely hit by the earthquake in early 2015 – and Udayapur and Sindhuli, where UNFPA is also supporting other projects.

An initial survey of 1,618 households gathered insights into what and how much people know about gender-based violence (GBV). 408 men and 1,210 women were interviewed.

Violence against women is a fact of daily life

The results of the survey speak for themselves: 87% of women and 97% of men say they have heard of cases of violence against women and girls. Domestic violence, rape, including marital rape and sexual harassment in public places, and polygamy are the most common reports. Other studies in Nepal have concluded that at least one in five women in Nepal has experienced violence. It is generally believed that the high suicide rate among women of child-bearing age is associated with violence against women.

Coordinated training raises awareness and provides help

In response to the findings, various training courses have been held since January 2017. They cover topics ranging from legal rights and obligations to healthcare. The tutors work with role-play, case studies, presentations, lectures, discussions, videos and games. Couples training, in which couples learn to communicate better and become more aware of the negative consequences of violence in the home, has been particularly successful.

GBV watch groups are learning how to respond and assist women affected by gender-based violence before referring them to specialised services, and how best to broach the issues in their communities. In empowerment courses, young girls are reflecting on their own experiences and role models. Health workers are learning to recognise gender-based violence and respond appropriately, even when women put their injuries down to other causes. Police officers are not only learning how the law applies to GBV but also how to treat survivors in a more sensitive way.

Five male and one woman police officer discuss a case
Police officers who complete the training support victims of gender-based violence better © UNFPA

Feedback shows the project is making a difference

The feedback from participants in the group activities indicate that positive changes can be observed after a relatively short period of time. «Girls empowerment training has made me believe in myself and the positive impact I can have on the community,» says Manashi Acharya from Udayapur. «I feel I have an in depth knowledge on issues like gender based violence, child marriage and so on. I look forward to imparting this knowledge to the community.»

A member of a women's cooperative from Udayapur has also noticed the changes: «I have observed significant changes in the adolescent girls in my community. Before the empowerment sessions, girls were very reluctant or unable to move around outside the home.  Now they are participating in speech competitions, dance and music.  Initially they thought girls shouldn’t move around outside the home but now they believe that girls can work like boys. Girls must engage and take leadership like boys.»

Kishun Kumar, who took part in couples training, has stopped shouting at his wife and daughter and insulting them: «I've realised that if we really want to make a difference in the community, I have to start with myself.»

The number of women who report violence and assaults has risen drastically, and the project team has observed that the police and healthcare facilities are responding in a more professional and effective way thanks to the project.

Manashi Acharya, a young woman from Udayapur
Manashi Acharya, Udayapur © UNFPA

Project could be expanded to other municipalities

The first phase of the project will continue until the end of 2018. Based on the encouraging results, it is possible that the activities will be expanded to other municipalities.