GESI Section at NRA is playing a pivotal role in GESI mainstreaming in reconstruction, social and economic recovery by facilitating capacity development, economic empowerment and development of meaningful partnerships and linkages.
Mr. Netra Prasad Subedi, Joint Secretary, is the head of Policy, Monitoring, Coordination and Social Development Division at NRA. The livelihood promotion and Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) fall under this division. Mr. Subedi has been working in NRA for the past nine months but he has devoted his 22 years in the government bureaucracy, working in different capacities in the Ministry of General Administration, Ministry of Urban Development, Financial Comptroller General Office, District Treasury Comptroller Office, National Planning Commission, Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, District Administration Office and Central Bureau of Statistics.
In this interview, Mr. Subedi talks about how NRA is ensuring the GESI policies in the overall reconstruction process. Excerpts:
When did NRA establish GESI section and why is it important to have this section in NRA?
NRA established a GESI Committee on 6 January 2017; and the GESI/Livelihoods Section on 12 July 2017, with a team composition backed by an Executive Committee member, one joint secretary, one under-secretary, one section officer and support staffs. The undersecretary has the overall GESI Section Operations mandate under the oversight of the joint secretary and advisory guidance of Member and Executive Committee. The GESI committee, chaired by member of the Executive Committee, comprises of GESI focal persons from Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Works and NRA GESI/Livelihoods Joint Secretary, supported by the GESI Section.
As disasters do not discriminate, women, vulnerable and marginalized groups were disproportionately affected by the earthquake of 2015. The recovery and reconstruction process, therefore, has been mandated to be geared towards facilitating and achieving meaningful participation of women, excluded and vulnerable groups and communities in all processes affecting their lives. The strategic vision of the cross-cutting GESI/Livelihoods sector of the NRA is to contribute to the closing of development gaps related to gender equality, social groups and geographical locations through mainstreaming of GESI strategies throughout the recovery and reconstruction process.
NRA believes that GESI needs to cross cut through all sectors, while it also needs to ensure specific focus on specific groups through meaningfully inclusive sex and age disaggregated engagement. There is an explicit and implicit opportunity to mainstream GESI perspectives throughout the reconstruction and rehabilitation processes. The Post Disaster Recovery Framework’s (PDRF) Strategic Recovery Objectives and the PDRF’s GESI mandate provide the GESI concerned interest groups the opportunity for engaged advocacy and partnership with NRA for a Gender Equal and Socially Inclusive Reconstruction/Recovery and Regeneration process.
Therefore, the GESI Section at NRA is playing a pivotal role in GESI mainstreaming in reconstruction, social and economic recovery by facilitating capacity development, economic empowerment and development of meaningful partnerships and facilitation of linkages.
In 2015 earthquake, more women and girls lost their lives as compared to men and boys, as identified in the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA). Why are women vulnerable (more than men are) during disaster?
In the 2015 earthquake, more women and girls lost their lives as compared to men and boys, partly due to their engagement in indoor household chores as per the gender roles. Post disaster, they are at the risk of sexual/gender based violence and trafficking. Further, they also stand the risk of not being counted during relief operations as the ‘head-of-households’ are mostly male in the socio-cultural context of Nepal, and relief operations only seek out the ‘head-of-households’. They stand risk of their voices not being heard and thus the response too can be non-gendered. Lack of education and disaster preparedness also puts them at risk of losing their lives during times of such disaster. While, in many communities it has been shared that, women who have been following strict instructions of their male counterpart lost their lives, when their male counterpart fled to save their lives instead during the moment of disaster.
Would you like to share some experiences from the local level concerning women in reconstruction that highlights their vulnerability?
At the local level, women have been over-burdened with rebuilding works along with livelihood and household responsibilities either due to the demise of their male counterparts during earthquake or out-migration. Consequently, they lack adequate time to engage in activities targeted towards economic empowerment such as mason training. Moreover, as women are stereotyped to lack strength required to perform physically laborious tasks, they have faced challenges in being hired as female mason. Even if hired, there exists a wage gap compared to that of the male mason in the same job, though otherwise mandated by NRA.
There has also been some reported cases of sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation; absence of safeguards and reporting mechanisms; difficult access to support services. Women are also facing challenges in accessing NRA’s reconstruction support in the absence of citizenship cards and land entitlement document.
How is reconstruction an opportunity to empower the vulnerable?
With the right kind of GESI partnerships and approaches, reconstruction of physical infrastructure is accompanied by social and economic recovery that facilitates closing of gaps and correcting ‘historical deficits’.
What are the measures currently being taken by NRA and plans for future to ensure GESI in reconstruction?
NRA’s GESI Work Plan 75/76 (18/19) process began in October 2017. Apart from the linear actions in fulfilling all deliverables on time, the process also enabled several intended outcomes throughout the different stages, based on NRA’s vision of transformative engagement on GESI within NRA, with GESI Concerned groups (GESICIG), rights upholders, civil society organizations, communities and other stakeholders. The GESICIG and NRA have met three times in person, during the period and have been communicating regularly on various issues related to GESI in NRA’s reconstruction and livelihoods work. Every part of the five-month long process was planned for using the learning to influence NRA’s draft GESI work plan FY 75/76 and development of capacity and partnerships for its implementation.
The first ever GESI workshop brought together 49 NRA officials from 32 earthquake-affected districts and included officials from Central and District Level Program Implementation Units (C/DLPIUs), NRA’s Executive Committee and representatives of GESI Concerned Umbrella Organizations as participants and resource persons. The workshop helped in establishing NRA’s GESI mandate and commitments; learning about the nuanced issues related to vulnerabilities, exclusion and approaches to overcome them; the identification and articulation of need for designation of GESI focal points at the local levels and in influencing the Draft Work Plan with inputs from the GESICIG, center, districts and the Executive Committee.
Given Nepal’s transition to a federated system of Governance and the devolution of power to the local structures, NRA’s main emphasis has been to work jointly with local governance mechanisms. The first leg of our joint programming began with GESI/Livelihoods consultations in Kathmandu on 2 February, moving on to Dhading, Sindhupalchowk and Kavre. These consultations are envisaged to establish NRA’s GESI in reconstruction mandate and to encompass livelihood and social recovery activities from a GESI perspective beginning with targeted interventions for/with the most vulnerable (Single women 65+, Persons living with disabilities-blue/red card holders; Senior citizens- 70+ and child-headed households), based on NRA’s Vulnerability Index. These consultations will cover all 32 districts and the discussions and priorities articulated will further enrich our future work.
Total of 18,505 vulnerable beneficiaries are identified based on the data collected by NRA.
Building on our ongoing work (to be influenced by the findings of the GESI Analysis), some of the priority areas for FY 75/76 are the following: