Press Release

Building Positive Partnerships: Regional Interfaith Leaders’ Meeting and Partners’ Learning/Planning Workshop on Anti-Trafficking, Safe Migration, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and HIV

13-15 November 2006, Kathmandu, Nepal


A South Asia Level Consultation on Building Positive partnerships: Regional Interfaith Leaders Meeting and Partners’ Learning/ Planning Workshop on Anti trafficking, Safe Migration, Gender based Violence (GBV) and HIVwas inaugurated today at Hotel de l Annapurna.

This meeting brings together 90 participants representing Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Nepal. The participants are from various NGOs, networks, research organizations, media, and representatives of different faith based organizations. Participants from the participating countries will be sharing their journey towards ending gender based violence with particular reference to trafficking, safe migration and HIV/AIDS, which will definitely enrich the deliberations.

Ms Sangeeta Thapa Representative UNIFEM Nepal said that “this meeting is being organized to share our six years of work that has brought in new partnerships, innovative practices, amazing and unique networks, renewed enthusiasm and much more that we are proud of. UNIFEM on one hand would like to share the success stories with all our important partners and on the other hand also find a way forward in the next phase of programming. We anticipate to come up with strategies to work towards eliminating gender based violence focusing on trafficking, and HIV/AIDS, and unsafe migration.”

The Chairperson of the National Inter Religious Priest Forum Maulana Nawajish Ali said that “ we are working to stop trafficking and may god help us in our crusade. The real Muslim is he who does not harm ours in any way. We should be able to help and profit others. People were born to help and serve each other and make a positive change. We are all making efforts to make a positive change. He said that the IRPF was established in Bihar and then Nepal adopted it and then in UP, hastinapur. We are all people and we should have love within ourselves. God sent us to earth for the profit of others.”

Shri Manbendra Mandal of ATSEC South Asia said that “In the past few years we had the south Asian forum of human trafficking, many things have happened. IRPF is one of those activities/movements; where it has done a lot of applaud able work all over India, Nepal, Bangladesh and partly in Pakistan. IRPF is also growing as a regional forum and in a few years it should be in all the countries of south Asia.All the religions should be together in building peace and working against human trafficking is also a way of working against peace. We have the media coalition and the Lawyers forum to fight against HT and give support to victims”

Elaborating on the work done by ATSEC he said that it was born with the mandate to work against cross border trafficking. Then rescue, care and support, psycho social Counselling and family reintegration. A number of things have happened all over the region where they are doing wonderful work.

Shrimati Urmila Anayal ,Honourable Ministr for Women and Child in her Inagural Address said that “I think that when the holy leaders are together, inspite of your different religions…all of the religions, people find peace and I think there is a lesson that there should be repect of human beings. Sometimes religion is used for political purposes. And sometimes we are in conflict but the religions lessons are always for the welfare of humans. There are examples of the caste system but there was never a caste system in the hindu religions this was developed later on for people’s own convenience.

She said that “ Nepal is in a transitional phase, we are on the path to making a new Nepal. The issue of gender equality is very important and these things should be included in the new constitution”

She said that “ I took the gender equality bill to parliament that stated that women don’t have to give back their inheritence after marriage and this was passed without much objection” She said that Nepal is in the process of drafting the New Constitution and said that the new constitution should address religious issues, and gender issues with much importance and should not leave anything out.

The issue of trafficking – we are in the process of drafting the bill of trafficking of women and children which is in the Ministry of law for approval. We should have our bill passed from the parliament in the near future. When all the holy leaders are all here and fight against child marriage then this is a positive change as it will change the mind set of people. This kind of collective regional approach will change things and so let us hope for a society without discriminations and gender imbalance.

Chandini Joshi Regional Director of UNIFEM South Asia said “that in today’s global context where there is so much confusion, stress, violence and abuse of human rights, we development practitioners are often frustrated by seeing some achievements and then regression happening. Our search for peace and a life free of violence for all seems to be a far fetched dream. But meeting like this gives us hope.”This is a unique moment in our history, where we have the leaders from various faiths and religions, media, Civil Society Organizations and stakeholders from across the spectrum gathered together on a common platform for the cause of women’s Human Rights and Human Security.

She said that “UNIFEM has long realized the importance of working with several stakeholders, facilitating networks and alliances as issues concerning human rights and human security have multiple layers, multiple facets, multiple dimensions and multiple accountabilities. With this realization, we have felt the significance of faith in the lives of women and men. The realm of faith reaches the very essence of existence. It has the power to positively shape cultures, identities, mindsets and attitudes. We believe that the reach of the faith fraternity amidst people, especially women, is something that will progressively create the sense of positive personhood thus contributing towards social learning, positive human relations, empathy and mutual awareness.”

On the Role of the Media she said that “the BPFA and CEDAW and regional instruments such as the SAARC Convention on Trafficking- all emphasize the importance of the media. Coming from the position of greater sensitivity, “responsible” media has furthered the progression of substantive equality and sensitivity. The Coalition has encouraged participation at the state level, encompassing reporting and work of print, electronic and alternative media, like theatre. The Coalition covers of all the major mainline print and electronic media – including representatives of a government run channel, as well as the huge involvement of the vernacular press, which has the largest constituency of readership. They have facilitated the rise in levels of awareness about trafficking, gender based violence, HIV, safe migration, existing laws and policies, the inter-linkages between issues, root causes and the unspoken assurance that the media persons are willing and ready to listen and give voice to people’s stories.”

“We have been witness to gross violation of human rights and have, in our capacity, partnered with committed stakeholders to address it. Our first phase of programming involved mutual development of conceptual clarity among UNIFEM and partners; our second phase was about working together and taking forward recommendations of networks like IRPF, National Media Coalition, SAPAT, SAFAHT, ATSEC, CBATN, Paurakhi, NNAGT, Sancharika Samuha, Shakti Samuha, National Legal Colloquium etc”

At the end of the Inagural Session Ms Archana Tamang UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office thanked all the participants for coming to Nepal and wished that in the coming three days the Consultation will discuss issues like Trafficking, gender based violence, HIV, safe migration, existing laws and policies, the inter-linkages between issues and come up with recommendations to take our Journey a Step ahead.

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