NEPALGUNJ: The series of Public-Private Dialogues (PPDs) focused on the draft ‘Policy Position Paper on Mainstreaming Women in Trade and Trade Policies’ has concluded after intensive discussions with stakeholders at the local, province and national levels. The most recent PPD event took place in Nepalgunj, drawing the participation of government agencies, experts, and local women entrepreneurs hailing from diverse social backgrounds, including Dalit and marginalized groups.
This one-day PPD initiative is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies (MoICS) and the EU-Nepal Trade and Investment Programme, with support from the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs’ Associations of Nepal (FWEAN) and technical assistance from the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Initiative.
The dialogue brought together women entrepreneurs, government officials, and Women Business Associations (WBAs), Women-based social organizations, District Chambers of Commerce, and Industry, women cooperatives, Cottage and Small Industries Associations, non-governmental organizations from Lumbini and Karnali Provinces. A total of 45 participants from Palpa, Kaplivastu, Banke, Bardia, Rupandehi, Bajhang, Jajarkot, Pyuthan, Rukum and Rolpa districts of Lumbini and Karnali Provinces attended the dialogue.
In a statement delivered via video conference, Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director of ITC, emphasized that the policy paper, being developed in consultation with stakeholders, will serve as the foundation for identifying policy actions to create a gender-responsive business environment in Nepal. She acknowledged that PPDs have played a crucial role in finalizing the policy paper by identifying feasible, effective, and customized solutions to the existing issues related to women’s participation in economic activities.
Mina Shrestha, member of the Provincial Assembly of Lumbini Province, underlined the necessity to simplify the process of doing business for women to encourage their participation in economic activities.
Lila Prasad Sharma, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies (MoICS) expressed the government’s commitment to expanding the role of women in business. He noted that the recommendations of the policy paper will be instrumental in addressing existing issues through policy reforms.
Darshana Shrestha, the First Vice President of FWEAN, emphasized that gender-responsive policies, formulated with the involvement of women, should play a pivotal role in promoting women’s participation in trade.
The primary objective of these PPDs was to develop a policy advocacy position paper with necessary recommendations to promote women’s participation in trade. This document, crafted after a series of PPDs held in Lalitpur, Biratnagar, and Nepalgunj, aims to mainstream gender considerations into trade and trade policies, ensuring greater participation in gender-responsive and inclusive trade policies.
The resulting position paper will consolidate the outcomes and recommendations generated from discussions among various stakeholders, including WBAs, in Lalitpur of Bagmati Province, Biratnagar of Koshi Province, and Nepalgunj of Lumbini Province.
These dialogues revolved around six key issues concerning women’s involvement in economic activities, including the business environment, legal and regulatory frameworks, access to finance, trade policy, access to skills, and work & society.
The paper is intended to serve as a valuable tool for policy advocacy, presenting recommendations to policymakers across various platforms to cultivate a supportive environment for women in exports, thereby advancing gender equality and providing women with greater access to business opportunities.
The PPDs also provided an opportunity to update the SheTrades Outlook in Nepal, an assessment report prepared by the International Trade Centre (ITC) focusing on women’s participation in business. These events sought to raise awareness among relevant stakeholders regarding the importance of increased female involvement in trade policy formulation and economic activities.
Throughout the PPDs, women entrepreneurs and policymakers engaged in constructive dialogues, exploring potential policy solutions and future strategies to further women’s economic empowerment through gender mainstreaming and policy reforms.