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Why Empowering Women is key to sustainable development in Hindu Kush Himalayas?

Millions of women in the Hindu Kush Himalayan countries are fighting for empowerment and equal rights to help achieve sustainable development in society

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Patna, March 23, 2017: Although from three different countries, Mahima Shrestha, Sadia Farhat and Rukmini Devi have something in common — they are fighting for their own empowerment in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) countries of Nepal, Bangladesh and India. They are among millions of women in the HKH region whose empowerment will help achieve sustainable development, experts say.

Shrestha has been fighting for land rights in her village near Kathmandu; Sadia has been fighting to send her daughters to school in a village in Bangladesh; Rukmini has been fighting for an equal wage as a farm labourer in a village in Bihar bordering Nepal. Their fight is not only for gender equality; it also reflects their hunger for empowerment as a means of ensuring sustainable development.

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According to a new research paper, based on a field study by two experts of the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), sustainable development will not be possible without girls and women fully realising their rights in all spheres of life.

“Millions of women have been left behind, and gender inequality remains a serious concern at multiple levels and in many different forms. The issue is more serious in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, where the gender gap and gender inequality are very high,” Kamala Gurung and Golam Rasul, the two experts, said.

They said that in the HKH in particular, universally discriminatory barriers include laws, traditions and issues of access which bar women from owning and inheriting land in many societies. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh, for instance, one-fifth of the female population cannot inherit property, and virtually none of the Mro and Khyang communities can.

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In neighbouring Nepal, the government is trying to encourage land ownership for women through an incentive in the form of tax reductions for land registered in the name of a woman. However, in spite of this policy, the pace at which the share of land owned by women is increasing in Nepal is very slow. Government data based on land ownership certificates from 2011 show that women have limited land ownership, ranging from 8 to 10 percent.

This averages to less than 0.1 hectares of land per woman per holding. What must be taken into account here is that the absence of claims to property can not only muffle the voices of women but also make it harder for them to enter and flourish in commercial, economic and even certain social activities.

“An important lesson learnt from several decades of gender research is that although gender relations play a critical role in the management of natural resources, women tend to be systematically disadvantaged in terms of access to resources, and decision-making,” the experts said.

According to data from the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), one of the most successful development initiatives in the country, women’s participation as decision-makers on the executive committees of community forest user groups (CFUGs), averaged only 25 per cent in 2012. The numbers clearly indicate that the road to achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality in a manner that prioritises the well-being of both men and women remains a long and challenging one.

Achieving greater equality between men and women will require a transformation in power relations between them and the breaking of structural barriers impeding progress in this area. Sustainable Development Goal 5, which seeks gender equality and empowerment for all women, offers an opportunity to embed gender equality into transformative approaches to sustainable development.

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“Prioritising investment in the empowerment of girls and women in the HKH is not only a direct path towards gender equality, poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth, it also ensures that nobody is left behind,” the experts said.

An enabling environmental and transformative policy is crucial to ensuring sustainable development and the social and economic empowerment of women. This would also help accelerate the implementation of existing commitments in the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (for women’s rights) and support conscious efforts being made to meet SDG 5, they added.

–IANS

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Twinkle Khanna Talks About Another Way For Women Empowerment

Known for her wits and playing with words like pro, Twinkle also joked on botox and said that one must not invest in anything that gives them diminishing returns

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Twinkle Khanna
Important for women to become financially independent: Twinkle Khanna. Flickr

Actress-turned-author Twinkle Khanna, who has been vocal about several social issues especially those related to gender equality, believes that the best way for a woman to empower herself is through financial independence.

“We often tell women to speak up for themselves and to be fearless, but the fact is if you are not financially independent, then you have to toe the line and have to raise hand for the cheque,” she said.

“Economic indepence is the primary thing for all women out there. They should not rely on someone else for their needs, all should become self-reliant,” Twinkle Khanna said during the launch of her third book titled ‘Pyjamas are Forgiving’ on Wednesday.

Organised by YFLO Delhi, the event was moderated by renowned journalist Barkha Dutt.

Twinkle Khanna
Twinkle Khanna, Wikimedia Commons

Asked the reason for holding a political ideology different from her husband and actor Akshay Kumar’s opinions, Twinkle responded by saying: “We all have a right to vote which implies we all have a right to have different opinions,” she said.

At the same time, the “Mela” actress expressed her concern over people’s ruthless attitude towards someone who has a different opinion in the society.

She said: “Be it colour, cast, nationality or opinion, we all are shunning people who are different from us. And through this we end up learning nothing. We all are living in an eco-chamber.

“It is good to have different opinions as it will help people to learn more about things in a different manner.”

Twinkle Khanna, who talked about botox quite a number of times, has once again urged women not to give unecessary heed to cosmetic treatments in order to look younger.

Twinkle Khanna
Twinkle Khanna. Flickr

The 43-year-old mother of two children said: “Ageing is a strange thing. When women cross 40, they start panicking about their looks and start getting cosmetic treatments.

“Rather bothering about looks, women should invest in their skills and try to develop a mind. If you have skills, automatically all heads will turn for you no matter what the looks are. ”

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Known for her wits and playing with words like pro, Twinkle also joked on botox and said that one must not invest in anything that gives them diminishing returns. (IANS)