Kopila Thapa


GESI Coordinator

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Posts by Kopila

  • Gender Transformative Change Is Our Priority

    March 31st, 2017

    The gender is at the center in our new Strategic Business Plan (SBP) 2017 to 2020. In terms of gender, the main shift in the strategic period is gender mainstreaming to gender transformation.

    The gender transformation process dedicates to rigorous gender analysis on capacity enhancement, institutional strengthen, research and development of gender responsive policies through meaningful participation of women and men. The transformative change process goes beyond identifying and exploring the symptoms of gender equality, socially constructed norms, attitudes, and relations of power that underline the cause of limitation of men and women.

    In context of Nepal, women are confined to the domestic spheres mostly in rural areas due to socially embedded and culturally accepted gender roles and responsibilities. So, this process examines the questions and seeks to change the rigid gender norms that causes power imbalances by encouraging critical awareness. The change process of gender transformation mainly focuses to unfold the causes and consequences of existing gender values and addresses them accordingly. This change process further encourages the society to promote the position of women by challenging the unequal distribution of resources and allocation regarding the power relationships. There are four different pillars for gender transformative change, they are:

    Pic. 1

    Source: ICIMOD’s strategic approach towards gender equity and analysis 2013-2017

    The first and foremost area that needs to be focused is capacity of women’s leadership. It helps to respond to the need and requirement of an organisation’s future strategy. The development of new policies and strengthening of existing policies from gender perspectives support women in leadership and decision making positions. Such policies support including the socially excluded, economically poor, and vulnerable in terms of disaster risk reduction and those deprived of access to information and resources. It further encourages partnering with like-minded government, non-government organisations and civil societies, additionally, the research on GESI helps to provide evidence for the areas of concentration to bring the gender transformation change in an organisation.

    In context of Practical Action, Nepal office, there are two areas that need to focus. They are;

    1. Capacity strengthening and women’s leadership
    • Focus on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) through project activities
    • Capacity building on Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) of staff and partners
    • Initiate the Gender Audit through our existing projects
    1. Inclusive policies and partnerships
    • Focus to implement of existing policies and development of new policies/ guidelines if required
    • Partnership with like minded organizations to contribute on GESI areas in the implementation level

    This comprehensive understanding of empowerment requires, not only the increase of women’s individual agency, but also changes to transform the structural barriers in order to shift social and cultural norms. This can be measured by examining three broad  domains of transformative changes on empowerment, they are:

    Agencies: Individual and institutional knowledge, skills and abilities

    Relations: Complex and multi-dimensional and pervasive relationships to analyse through diversified tools and techniques

    Structures: Power relationships governing collective, individual and institutional practices

    Pic. 2

    Source: Measuring gender-transformative change (Oct. 2015), Care USA for WorldFish and the CGIAR Research Programme on Aquatic Agricultural Systems

    These dimensions help re-frame the discourse of empower to focus on women’s individual agency to collect responsibilities and actions.

    Overall, the gender transformative change impacts on institutional and individual level through gender inclusive policies keeping the women in front line positions in development interventions. This leads to rights of women along with gender related expectations. Eventually, it provides insights for gender transformative actions at organisation and programme implementation levels. Gender is so central to our new strategy. So, considering our organizational priorities, gender tansformative change is one of them.


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  • Learnings from a gender sensitisation workshop

    November 10th, 2016

    Practical Action is committed to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through all its work; through programmes, knowledge sharing, advocacy, external communications and organisational development.  It ensures gender considerations in all of its four programme areas –agriculture, food security and markets; urban water, sanitation and waste; energy access and disaster risk reduction.

    To stress the importance of gender analysis and develop gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) related project activities and indicators, Practical Action organised a gender sensitisation workshop on 14-15 September 2016 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

    The workshop was facilitated by Kamla Bhasin, a feminist activist and social scientist. Her work focuses on gender, education, human development and media. She is an advocate for equality between genders.

    Kamla Bhasin facilitating the workshop.

    Kamla Bhasin facilitating the workshop.

    The first part of the workshop  focused on the concept of gender and inclusion, masculinity and patriarchy, power relations, gender roles and work burdens, gender division of labour and gender relations on social inclusions.

    The second part was concerned with gender integration in project management cycle, the role of managers including monitoring and evaluation . The workshop aimed at sensitising the concept of gender and social inclusion on contemporary issues at global, regional and local levels and enhancing the capacity of the Practical Action’s managers to mainstream GESI during the project management cycle.

    More specifically, the workshop focused on lecture method. Some short movies related to gender based violence and One Billion Rising (OBR)  campaign were shown.

    Brainstorming sessions

    The workshop included different types of brainstorming sessions.  Male and female participants were divided into different groups and participants were asked to share their painful experience as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’.

    Female participants in group work

    Female participants in group work

    The entire group shared their experiences about gender when they were children. The women’s group found their life privileged before getting married and expressed that life after marriage somehow changed due to the expectation of domestic work from women.  The group came up with the outcome that the family is the basic unit of society and it is probably the most patriarchal. A man (father, grandfather, brother and so on) is considered the head of the household within the family and they control women’s sexuality, production, reproduction and mobility. The family where one learns the first lessons on hierarchy, discrimination, etc., continues these patriarchal values and so does the next generation.

    Group presentation by the male participants

    Group presentation by the male participants

    Changed forms of violence

    There are different types of violence and the forms of violence are changing based on time, regions and countries, for example female genital mutilations are high in African countries. Similarly gender based violence, sexual exploitation and harmful traditional practices are also forms of violence. These days cybercrime and child pornography are also types of violence.  Agricultural and crafts profession are on a decline and this might be the cause of new kinds of violence and engaging women in prostitution.

    Masculinity and patriarchy

    Masculinity is all about power and femininity is exactly the opposite of masculinity. Masculinity is social definition given to boys and men by societies. Nature makes male or female, and it gives the biological definition but society makes masculine or feminine. Patriarchy means the rule of father or the ‘patriarch’ and originally it was used to describe a specific type of ‘male dominated society’. In Asian context, it is used more generally to refer to male domination and the power relationship by which men dominate the women. As a result women are kept subordinate in a number of ways. In the context of South Asia, so called ‘Patriarchy’.

    Gender is all about ideology and mindset!

    Origin of patriarchy

    The origin of patriarchy dates from the beginning of human history – the barbarian age, pre-civilisation. Patriarchy, a concept that we experience in our lives, explains women’s subordinate position. During that period men developed weapons and women developed tools. Then women got involved in agriculture, crafts, social relationships and their mobility became limited to the domestic sphere. Gradually, the importance of women in the hunter gatherer economy was enhanced by the significance attached to the reproductive role of women. Female sexuality was not a threat and did not have to be managed since the community depended upon it. Female reproductive power was highly valued and female power was confined to motherhood.  And the male was involved in public spheres.

    Gender and gender relations and the gender division of labour are also not the same everywhere. It is specific to culture, location and time.

    Gender division of labour

    Gender division of labour also leads to hierarchy and inequality because men and women are not valued or rewarded equally. Even these days in some countries feminists are fighting for ‘equal pay for equal work’.  The allocation of certain tasks to men and women in productive processes also leads to issue of command and control over resources. Generally, women have three types of work in our societies.

    1. Reproductive work (Biological reproduction and social reproduction)
    2. Productive work
    3. Community and social work
    Even in this work there are certain roles divided between men and women. Gender division of labour leads to gender division of types of work and standard gendered labour.

    A highly effective workshop, I have ever attended”- Vishwa B. Amatya – Head of Programme, Energy

    Last two days gave us an enlightening experience. This has been an eye opener.”   Archana Gurung- Communications Officer

    Definitely a very fruitful time with Kamla Bhasin over the two days period. An amazing person we all fell in love with. ‘Man of quality is not afraid of equality’. We need more men to change now! “Strike, Dance and Rise Ladies”. Khommaya Thapa Pun – HR Manager

    A group photo with facilitator

    A group photo with facilitator

    The workshop was found to be a productive way to communicate the importance of gender analysis. Overall it supported the GESI planning process while developing the GESI related project activities and indicators.

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  • Inspired by the Commission on the Status of Women

    May 17th, 2016

    Women are agents of development. Realising gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not only a goal in itself but can lead to progress across all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets. This year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) stressed this and welcomed commitments to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls as per the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

    More than 8,100 individuals represented over 180 countries at the event, which took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14 to 24 March. There were a record number of 220 side events.  International women rights activists took to the platform to engage policymakers in women’s issues. A benchmark was set through this year’s CSW60 as agreement was reached on the priority theme, of ‘women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development’.

    Hon. Minister C.P. Mainali presenting at CSW60 inaugural

    Hon. Minister C.P. Mainali presenting at CSW60 inaugural ceremony

    Around 20 individuals from Nepal attended, representing government, non-profits, civil societies and media. Women, Children and Social Welfare Minister Chandra Prakash Mainali presented on the initiation and the achievement of Nepal on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment on behalf of the government. A proud moment for Nepal was an honor to Nepali activist Bandana Rana who received ‘Women of Distinction Award 2016’ from UNDP for her fight against gender based violence and for her contribution to women’s empowerment.

    During the keynote speeches I came across these statistics about women related concerns

    1. The media is a powerful player in driving women’s empowerment, but globally women’s representation in the media is 27%.
    2. Women account for 52% of the population in the United States but only 18% of representatives in the United States government are women.
    3. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriage and female refugees are the major concerns in the global agenda.
    4. 240 million people are forced to migrate off their countries and 47% are women and out of them 15% are below 20 years.

    Many people understand that genital mutilation and forced sterilisation are clearly a problem that plagues the modern world, but there are subtler problems surrounding rape culture, unequal pay and representation and intolerance to transgender people.

    Co-operative participation

    Participants from Nepal with Bandana Rana

    Participants from Nepal with Bandana Rana

    Similarly, there was some encouraging sharing; in South Africa, women make up 60% of co-operative members. In Japan, 95% of consumer co-operative members are women. Nearly 40% of female worker co-operative members in Spain are in leadership positions, and women represent 49% of worker co-operative members overall. Uganda has seen an increase of 132% in women’s participation in agriculture co-operatives. Women’s leadership on financial co-operative boards is 65% in Tanzania. In the United Kingdom, 41% of board members of co-operative retail businesses are women.

    ‘Campaign to Elect a Women UN Secretary-General’ was another attraction of the Session. Since the UN’s founding, there have been 8 individuals appointed to the role of UN Secretary-General – all of them men.  Participants exhorted UN delegates to select a woman as the next secretary general of the UN. There is no shortage of female candidates. It’s HIGH TIME, the time is NOW!

    Technologies empower women

    The session included technology initiatives to improve access to and control of technology for women and girls, especially in remote and marginalized areas. It also useful to use at strategy level  to integrate Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) mechanisms across the globe. This platform gave me the opportunity to share GESI related achievements on behalf of Practical Action and personal experiences in the professional journey of addressing women’s empowerment and promoting gender equality.

    Participants were interested to know more about how technology empowers women and helps to reduce poverty through changes in their livelihood. The session also examined the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goals 3 and 5. Goal 3 cites ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being and happiness for all. Goal 5 supports gender equality across the globe. The speakers shared different perspectives about the role of each goal government, civil society, the private sector and in everyday individual practice.

    Happiness and gender equality in the sustainable development goals

    UNFPA efforts to end harmful practices against women and girls

    UNFPA efforts to end harmful practices against women and girls

    CSW60 wrapped up with the adoption of the agreed conclusions, which recognized women’s vital role as agents of development and urged gender-responsive implementation of Agenda 2030. They called for enhancing the basis for rapid progress, including stronger laws, policies and institutions, better data and scaled-up financing. For next year CSW61, the priority theme is ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’. This will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 to 24 March 2017.

    Overall, the CSW60 was amazing and I had the opportunity to meet high level UN dignitaries and country representatives. I participated in more than 50 major and side events. Profoundly, the sessions were intense dialogues and interactions with social workers all over the world.

    Finally, every moment has been worthwhile and has made me wiser, stronger and richer in knowledge on women’s concerns.  I have built friendships in networks all over the world and had an inspiring and productive time. All these all experiences, expanded networks and learning will help me to promote integrated gender and socially inclusive project development in Practical Action both regionally and globally.

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