In 2016, the government organized the First Girl Summit with the slogan “Girls are the future of Nepal”. As a follow-up to the event, the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens in association with UK Aid, UNICEF, Yuvalaya, JCYCN and its partners organized the second Girl Summit in Kathmandu. The event was organized as part of Nepal’s commitment to end child and forced marriage by 2030.
The event consisted of various attractions to the participating young girls in the form of stalls, photo booth, face painting and games. A self-defense introduction class was also organized by JCYCN in collaboration with Girls Kick to help teach the basics of protecting oneself.
In her message to the event, Rt. Honorable President Bidya Devi Bhandari hoped that the program will provide a platform for evaluation of works done in the past to eradicate child marriage and chart a course for future actions.
Acting Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Honorable Ishwor Pokhrel, who inaugurated the program, called on everyone to unite against child marriage. He said that child marriage still prevails in the country because of geographical remoteness, economic backwardness and superstitious beliefs. The minister added that awareness, education and special program for girls are needed to address the problem. He said that if Nepal can take these steps, incidents of rape, murder, violence and abuse can be curbed. Minister Pokhrel called on leaders of all levels of government to prepare policies and program to end child marriage and to implement them with full priority. He called on governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society, journalists and development partners to play active roles in building a child-friendly society.
Similarly, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens, Ms. Tham Maya Thapa said that events like the Girl Summit are organized to raise awareness about the laws, policies and program aimed at ending child marriage. The ministry has already passed a strategy to end underage marriage three years ago. Minister Thapa called for relevant changes to the education curriculum, laws and customs to end social evils such as violence, child and forced marriage, rape and abuse.
The ministry’s secretary, Mr. Buddhi Bahadur Khadka said his ministry takes the issue of children seriously. He informed that Parliament has recently passed legislation related to children. He added that the summit will encourage everyone to unite against rising cases of violence.
Goodwill ambassador for UNFPA Nepal, Ms. Manisha Koirala said that child marriage could be stopped if stakeholders work together with the government.
Mr. Tilottam Paudel, President of Jagriti Child and Youth Concern Nepal, spoke on behalf of the CSOs and said that the summit would be marked as advocacy for Nirmala Hatya Kanda. He also said that it is now time to work together with government and non-government organizations to stop child marriage and other social evils. He said that it is the responsibility of every citizen to make their country safe for girls.