Subnational governments policies, programs, and service delivery are inclusive, equitable, and respond to the needs of women and marginalized constituencies.

Women and marginalized communities, including people with disabilities, have been historically excluded from decision-making processes in Nepal. The shift from a unitary to a federal governance structure also envisioned social transformation and an inclusive society. The historically marginalized population of Nepal, who demanded greater participation and inclusion in the country’s development, hoped that their long-time grievances would be addressed. However, there is a distinct gap between the intentions laid out in the Constitution and the reality on the ground.

Gender and other inequalities interlink with the larger political economy and power dynamics. These entrenched power dynamics take time and consistent efforts to change. Further, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the existing gender and social inequalities, including the exclusion of women and marginalized groups from the response, relief, and distribution activities, job losses, and negative impacts on the economic status of women and marginalized communities.

Similarly, several factors affect people with disabilities’ access to opportunities and rights as provisioned by the Constitution. Limited understanding of the breadth and depth of the issue, along with a lack of will and internalization of the matter, are some of the significant constraints to achieving disability inclusion (DI). Even though the present provisions enlist considerable responsibilities to subnational governments, many local governments have yet to formulate laws and policies to address DI. In addition, there is a need for better coordination across the three tiers of government to address issues affecting people with disabilities and to ensure their access to, and participation in, local decision-making processes is equal and equitable.

Effective mainstreaming of GEDSI strategies is essential in sustainable development programs such as SNGP. For SNGP, GEDSI mainstreaming is a way to approach both structural and behavioral understandings. The learnings of SNGP Phase I demonstrate that it is worth developing trusting relationships with key actors to promote greater spaces for genuine and shared ownership of GEDSI mainstreaming. This needs to be taken a step further to ensure that representation is increased not only for citizens in general but also with particular attention to the participation and increased influence of marginalized groups (based on ethnicity, religion, age, gender, disability, and other parameters) through a GEDSI-responsive approach.

SNGP formed a GEDSI Taskforce in late 2019 to provide strategic guidance and accountability on the GEDSI approach. The program implements a dual-track approach to mainstream GEDSI across all program interventions through targeted and integrated activities where the need is most pronounced. The program focuses on enhancing GEDSI-sensitive institutional governance among partners, including the strategic partner municipalities; supports gender-responsive budgeting and planning at the subnational level; and contributes to creating space for more inclusive discussions and decision-making. The program also garners a greater understanding of these issues through continued political economy, power analyses, and learning.

Major Initiatives

  • Facilitate policymaking and implementation: SNGP conducted an assessment and held consultations to identify policy gaps in strategic partner municipalities. Based on these findings, the municipalities demanded technical support to prepare GEDSI policies and Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) guidelines.
  • Support women representatives’ leadership growth through mentorship: The program conducts mentorship for women representatives of the ward- and municipal executive levels from marginalized communities, including Dalit women representatives, so that they may assert their voices and space within their vital decision-making roles. The program focuses on women’s roles as representatives, developing networks, building political knowledge, and advocating for the representation of women in politics and governance.
  • Capacity building of the municipalities on GEDSI: The program also provides regular learning and capacity-building workshops to the municipal officials on GEDSI policies and budgeting.
  • Promote Disability inclusion: SNGP is helping to fill knowledge gaps on the role of local governments in disability inclusion. The program formed advocacy forums in four municipalities to promote disability inclusion in health and economic development programming.
  • Implement SNGP Fellowship: SNGP fellowship in seven strategic partner municipalities provides opportunities for young women from marginalized communities to acquire necessary knowledge and skills regarding local government practices and processes. In coordination with the partner municipalities, the fellows work at various sections of the respective municipality offices, developing their leadership skills and professionalism to prepare them for future career goals.
  • Knowledge Products and Research on Inclusion: The program also produces specific knowledge products to shed light on various issues of gender equality and inclusion. To counter the stereotypical image of a leader and representative, the program produces multimedia resources highlighting women leaders’ achievements and contributions. The program periodically commissions major research/assessments/studies to examine gender equality gaps and identify opportunities for interventions under GEDSI objectives.
  • Provide technical support to the partner organizations: SNGP also provides technical support to its partner organizations to prepare and implement institutional policies and provisions on GEDSI and finalize the GEDSI Action plan for mainstreaming the lens. Further, the program regularly conducts learning and capacity building workshops and sessions for its partners on inclusion and equality.