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The First Ever International Day of the Girl Child Celebrated in Nepal

© UNICEF Nepal/2012/KPandey
Vice President Mr. Parmanandha Jha posing with adolescent children who had come from different parts of the country

Kathmandu, October 12 --Nepal celebrated the first International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) yesterday marking the beginning of a campaign that focuses on adolescent girls.  The Third Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations had last year agreed to designate 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child to be observed every year beginning 2012. The IDGC focuses attention on the need to address the unique challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

A colourful and participatory event held in the capital Kathmandu, presided over by Nepal’s Vice President Mr Paramananda Jha, was a culmination of consultations since August at the grassroots level with adolescent boys and girls in around half the 75 districts of Nepal.  Representatives, mostly girls, from each district had come to Kathmandu to participate in a “Future Search Conference,” and the recommendations emanating from all of these consultations, are meant to feed into the National Plan of Action for the Holistic Development of Adolescents being developed by the National Planning Commission (NPC). The issues raised by the adolescents were further discussed in separate thematic technical sessions yesterday and recommendations from those panels which were presented at a plenary session at the end of the day will also feed into the Plan of Action. 

The Vice President, as Chief Guest, inaugurated yesterday’s event by lighting a diyo (traditional lamp) signifying the need for a bright future for all the children and adolescents. Symbolically, the IDGC’s logo is also a diyo which was designed by adolescents.  Adolescents present at the hall waved colourful ribbons and sang about the need to light up their future and how empowering adolescents would brighten the country’s future.

The event was organised by the National Planning Commission along with members of the United Nations Adolescent Girls' Task Force Group (UNICEF,UNFPA,UNESCO, UNWomen, WHO) , Save the Children, Plan Nepal, CWIN and the consortium.

© UNICEF Nepal/2012/KPandey
UNICEF Nepal Representative Ms Hanaa Singer(left corner) along the vice president Mr Parmandha Jha (right corner)and dignitaries from different organisations

The morning’s event was a colourful mix of songs, dances, speeches and testimonials of children for a range of issues regarding adolescent girls. Two main speakers at the event, representing adolescents at the conference were Dil Kumari Chaudhary and Jayaram Lamichhane who spoke very passionately about the need for education and wished to see equality in all forms in society within five years. Lamichhane said, “The bitter truth about our society is that we are ignored even by our family. We would like to help the society prosper, we have high hopes for our future and we are sure we can accomplish a lot but for that, we should get the opportunity to do so.”

Another adolescent, Devi Shahi, from Nepal’s far western district, Doti, delivered a strong message of how a harmful practice like chhaupadi affects adolescent girls. She also highlighted the fact that the practice is gradually on decline in her village, thanks to the intervention of Save the Children, the liberal views of her mother and the cooperative local faith healers and religious leaders.

The event also saw the launch of the “Because I am a Girl” campaign and the accompanying report by Plan International. A short video and a drama performed by children from Makwanpur highlighted the issues raised by the campaign that investing in girls was investing everyone’s future.   Other visuals presented on the occasion included a film on child marriage produced by UNFPA.
Speaking at the event, Vice President Paramanda Jha stressed the need to work towards a plan of action to help and support adolescents and address their concerns. He urged all the development partners to work together to make this a reality.

Mr. Donal Keane from Plan, Country Director, Mr. David Wrighter from Save the Children and UNICEF Country Representative Ms. Hanaa Singer all spoke of the need to invest in girls and expressed their commitment to work towards a better future for all adolescents. Other speakers representing the organisers NPC were the officiating Vice Chair Mr. Janak Raj Shah and the Joint Secretary of NPC Mr. Atma Ram Pandey. 

At the end of the inaugural session, the Vice President and other partners, held hands with the adolescents and pledged “Today we stand here in solidarity to express our commitments to empower and fulfil the rights of Nepali adolescents.”

 

 

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