Joint Meeting on Women’s Economic Empowerment in a Low-Carbon COVID-19 Recovery

A joint meeting between ForestAction Nepal and Southasia Institute of Advanced Studies (SIAS) was organized on 11th September, 2022 on “Women’s Economic Empowerment in a Low-Carbon COVID-19 Recovery” funded by IDRC Canada. ForestAction Nepal is implementing- Women’s Economic Empowerment through Forest Solutions- WEE-FS in Sindhupalchok and Nawalparasi district and SIAS is implementing Co-production of Shock Resilient Business Ecosystems for Women Engaged Enterprises (CREW) in Ramechhap, Dolakha and Arghakhanchi districts. The meeting was organized to discuss the conceptual framing of women economic empowerment and share the projects achievements, issues and challenges in the action research.

The meeting was organized in two sessions, the first session was intended for sharing and discussion on the conceptual framework and project updates and second one on the opportunities, issues and challenges faced in project implementation. Dr. Bhim Adhikari shared the IDRC’s research priorities and the developmental challenges. He raised the issue of challenges of action research on influencing policy making at national and global level and expected two projects in the same country will bring synergy stimulating policy process.

Dr. Mani Ram Banjade, Principal Investigator- CREW project shared conceptual details of the women economic empowerment (WEE) framework. Five domains of WEE (economic, socio-cultural, environmental, technological and policy) and interlinkages between them important to build shock resilient women led enterprises. He further updated the project achievements and glimpses of base line survey analysis.

Ms. Kanchan Lama and Dr. Srijana Baral, discussed the conceptual framework adopted by WEE-FS project. Ms. Lama shared that in the WEE framework women’s societal relationship with her family is equally important as agency development and reducing the social biases and structural barriers in the empowerment process. Dr. Baral shared the project approaches and the updates made so far in the project outcome areas.

   

ForestAction Nepal’s consortium partner HIMAWANTI Nepal, AFFON and FenFIT presented their perspectives in issues and challenges faced in the project implementation. Similarly, SIAS partners (NIMS College, ARIA Solutions and Himalayan Bio Trade Limited -HBTL) reflected the same.

The discussions between the sessions were moderated by Dr. Naya Sharma Poudel and Dr. Dil Bahadur Khatri. The majority of the discussions focused on joint actions for WEE, cross learnings and policy gaps on developing low carbon economies. More such events are expected to be useful to both the projects and IDRC as a whole.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Adhikari shared that the projects are progressing well in line with IDRC’s strategic thinking and ideas. He appreciated the partnership approaches. He also suggested on developing scalable models for women empowerment through low carbon initiatives. He emphasized on knowledge generation and dissemination, as IDRC uses the academic outputs to map project’s impacts.

 

 

Assessment of agroecological farming in Mahakali river basin area

Members of food and agriculture team of Forestaction Nepal, recently accomplished a field visit to Far West Province. The main objective of the field visit was to conduct agro-ecological assessment in Mahakali River basin (Bheemdatt and Dodhara Chandani Municipalities of Kanchanpur district, and Parashuraam Municipality of Dadeldhura district). This assessment has been carried out in collaboration with NNSWA (Kanchanpur based organization), and was conducted between 29th May to 3rd of June, 2022.

Municipality level interactions, in presence of newly elected representatives, were conducted in all of above three municipalities. The possible roles of local government in promoting agriculture for food at local level, was discussed during municipality level interactions.

At ward level, separate focus group discussions were held with farmers group, women farmers group, and Dalit women farmers group. Also, separate interaction was held with few of the individual farmers. During the interaction, the current scenario of food and agriculture of respective ward level, the problems, challenges being faced by the farmers including the problems invited due to over flooding in Mahakali and Jogbuda rivers during rainy season, the scope of agriculture, agriculture related enterprises that the farmers have envisioned, were discussed.

During the field visit, agriculture and livestock offices, situated at municipality, were also visited, and interacted with the officials.

The report making process is in progress. All the information collected from the field is being analysed. At the same time, policy documents and other similar study related articles and reports, and respective municipality’s profile is being reviewed.

The field study report will be shared later once it is finalized.

Expansion of Alliance of Agriculture for Food in Chitwan valley

Alliance of Agriculture for Food (AAF) is expanded in Chitwan valley too. AAF is collaborating with other networks and alliances of organic food producers and sustainable agriculture promoters, located inside Chitwan valley, and jointly raising the issues of food and agriculture, conducting awareness campaign against the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and bringing such issues into public debate, and promoting agroecological farming.

Recently, AAF organized an interaction event at Kalika municipality, in presence of newly elected local representatives, and discussed over the contemporary issues of food and agriculture of respective municipality. Also discussed the potential roles and responsibilities of local government to promote agriculture for food at local level.

The new series of an apprenticeship course begins

Food and agriculture team at Forestaction Nepal has been running an apprenticeship course on “transformative activism for sustainable agriculture” since 2010. The motive behind running this course is to build the capacity of the farmers, activists, agriculture students, and others who are interested in farming, and make them able to involve in the campaign of “Agriculture for Food”, either through practices, or through their engagement in policy advocacy at local level. Further, changing ourselves by reflecting and learning by doing and teaching by learning is motto of this training.

So far now, the team has already successfully conducted seven of its series, with an average of 20 participants in each batch, and has now started the new series of it.

The new series of this course includes two groups of participants. The one group includes the participants solely from Terai Madhesh region, whereas, the other one includes the fresh agriculture graduates including some farmers/activists as participants.

The Terai Madesh group has 25 participants, who are currently engaged in with different groups, and are promoting agriculture, working in the social sector, education field, and some are students too. The first module of this series for this group was organized at Thimura, Chitwan, for five days starting from 29th of April 2022.

Similarly, the first module for the next group was organized at SWI, Nakhhu, lalitpur, for five days, staring from 20th of May, 2022. This group has altogether 22 participants.

The theme of the first module for both of the groups was “Back to Basics”.

In this module, under the theme of back to basics, classes were conducted on topics such as evolution, diversity and discrimination, development, education, public health and life skills. Thematic presentations, discussions, group interaction, games and active interactions of participants were the method applied during the training. The first module for both group ended with effective learning through various thematic sessions by facilitators and the active participation of participants.

7th National Workshop on Community Forestry

The aim of this workshop is to review the five decades of CF, develop a common understanding on its achievements, lessons, challenges and opportunities especially in the changing biophysical and socio-political contexts.

Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Community Forests: Issues, Challenges, and Strategies

A half-day workshop on “Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Community Forests: Issues, Challenges, and Strategies” was successfully held in Hotel Himalaya on 24th March 2022. The program was jointly organized by the Department of Plant Resources, ForestAction Nepal, and Kathmandu Forestry College. The workshop was attended by officials from Ministry of Forest and Environment, NGOs, Academia and members of local communities working on biodiversity and forest management in Nepal. The participants represented a total of 25 different institutions.

The presentations, discussions and comments highlighted biodiversity significance of community forest, policy environment around community forest and status of invasive alien species in Nepal. Officials, researchers and participants discussed on challenges of integrating biodiversity conservation in community forests.  The participants suggested developing a minimum requirement for biodiversity inventory in community forests. Biodiversity significance was demonstrated through case of a DI UK funded project.

Dr Lila Nath Sharma, Prof Ambika Gautam and Kalpana Sharma Dhakal presented papers and Prof Bharat Babu Shrestha of TU and Dr. Rajendra KC, Director General of the Department of Forest and Soil Conservation commented on the presentation. Shiva Kumar Wagle, Chief of Planning and Monitoring Division, Ministry of Forest and Soil conservation, Dr Buddi Sagar Paudel, Director General of Department of Plant resources and Dr Mark Watson of Royal Botanical Garden Edinburg provided their remarks and highlighted need for scientific research on biodiversity and conservation in community forests.

 

Report Launch: Revitalising community forestry in the changing socioeconomic context of Nepal

‘Revitalising community forestry in the changing socioeconomic context of Nepal’ report launch event was successfully held at Hotel Himalaya on 15 March 2022.

The report was jointly launched by the Secretary of MoFE, Dr Pem Kandel, and HE Felicity Volk, Australian Ambassador to Nepal. There were over 35 participants from various institutions including joint secretaries from the MoFE, Divisional Forest Officers, Under Secretaries, Dean of Institute of Forestry, University Professors, Chair and representatives of FECOFUN, and representatives from NGOs and INGOs.

Secretary of the MoFE and HE the Ambassador, highlighted that the report is very timely and gives a strong basis to framing community forestry policies in the days to come and would provide crucial direction to strengthen the sector. They also acknowledged the collaborative effort of both Australian and Nepalese researchers on this report.

 

Origins and early development of community forestry in Nepal

A webinar on ‘Origins and early development of community forestry in Nepal’ was organized on 14 March 2022. The speakers involved pioneers and early advocates of community forestry in Nepal. The experiential insights of the four pioneers (Dr Don Gilmour, Mr. Stephen Midgley, Dr TBS Mahat, Dr Narayan Kaji Shrestha) threw light on the historical context of community forestry in Nepal, and provided footing to advance community based natural resources management in the challenging time and rapidly changing contexts.

The webinar was jointly organized by the EnLiFT2 project and the Nepalese Association of Agriculture, Forestry, and Environment in Australia. The full video to the webinar is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbIBuPsIg5w&t=23s

Click here to download the transcription of the webinar

 

Celebration of the International Women’s Day (IWD)-2022 at ForestAction Nepal

On 8th of March, 2022, ForestAction team celebrated the “Break the Bias” and “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” to mark the International Women’s Day 2022. The program started with a brief presentation about IWD, followed by a group learning on “my organization, my pride” through a participatory group work, cutting an “IWD 2022” cake and felicitating two women support staff in the organization.

Among other issues, the origin, history, the journey of women’s advancement throughout various international conventions, treaties and national commitments of the Government of Nepal, was highlighted during the gathering. Moreover, the importance of IWD 2022 motto on the need of today to break the bias to achieve equality was underlined. Subsequently, one of our female staff members recited a poem on, “Naari” (woman). It was followed by cutting the “IWD 2022” cake and celebration among the entire team. Likewise, two of our women support staff were felicitated in recognition of their support to the ForestAction team.

Ms. Kanchan Lama led a group work involving a participatory exercise to work out on the image, champions/villains, rituals and culture of ForestAction in regard to equity and equality. The staff were given colorful cards to write one answer in one card only, then to paste them in the sketch of a half cut onion. The objective of the exercise was to motivate the ForestAction team members towards their self-responsibilities to shape an “equality for creativity” type of organizational culture by contributing to building an enabling environment for all.  The ForestAction team members appreciated the efforts to achieve gender equality.

Feminist Approaches to Action Research: Transformational Dimensions

A two days training on “Feminist Approaches to Action Research: Transformational Dimensions” was conducted on 13-14 February, 2022 at Kathmandu. The training event was a capacity building initiative within the IDRC funded project “Economic Empowerment of Women through Forest Solutions”. The training was attended by 20 participants from ForestAction Nepal, HIMAWANTI, AFFON, FenFIT and SIAS. The key objective of the training was to develop understanding and internalizing feminist epistemology in women economic empowerment (WEE). The training comprised of eight sessions.

Dr. Bimala Rai Paudyal, Member of the National Assembly, was the key note speaker in the event and delivered her speech on- addressing women economic empowerment by national development plans. She shared that the women economic empowerment is a pre-condition for poverty eradication and inclusive growth. She explained by WEE components are embedded in the Constitution of Nepal, Development plans and Sustainable Development Goals. She informed the participants about affirmative measures adopted by government to promote women economic empowerment. She highlighted that property right, descent, participation and justice as the pillars of women empowerment.

The session on Feminist Epistemology was presented by Prof. Dr. Mira Mishra. She explained the theoretical perspective of feminist epistemology- Liberal, Marxist and Radical. She briefly shared the historical developments in the feminist theories starting from 1960s when the women’s experiences were largely omitted, distorted and trivialized in the knowledge production system. She further shared the key methods in feminist research as: feminist standpoint, intersectionality perspective and reflectivity.

Third session focused on the climate and pandemic resilience and its impacts on women economic empowerment. The session was undertaken by Ms. Srijana Shrestha, Under Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Environment. She explained how climate change affects the women disproportionally. She explained that the socialization, stereotypes, implicit bias, gender privilege and marginalization as factors hindering women empowerment.

Ms. Sabita Dhakhwa, trained the participants on scopes for forest based enterprise- women in timber. She shared several policy provisions related to forest based enterprises. She described the MED model and its significance in enterprise development. She shared opportunities and constraints for women led timber business. Ms. Manorama Adhikari trained the participants on GESI integrated monitoring, evaluation and learning. Project monitoring indicators were revisited during her session.

Ms. Kanchan Lama enlightened the participants through transformative approaches to women’s leadership. Giving example of transformational leaders at national and global level, Ms. Lama inspired the participants to adopt transformative approaches to women’s economic empowerment.

Two session were focused on research methods. Dr. Mani Ram Banjade, took session on research methods and tools. He explained about philosophical basis for knowledge generation. Different theoretical perspectives and research paradigms were discussed. He shared the differences and significances of constructivism, positivism and pragmatism. The importance of qualitative and quantitative methods was discussed. Dr. Naya Sharma Paudel trained the participants on the theory and practices of action research. He explained about the key elements of action research, forest policy actor landscape and critical perspective adopted in action researches.

The training closed after the Institutional heads of the Consortium Partner’s expressed their opinion.

 

 

41st International World Food Day

41st International World Food Day was celebrated with a month-long event during September-October 2021. The celebration started with a press meet on 10th September and the closing event on 2nd November 2021. Alliance of Agriculture for Food/ForestAction Nepal collaborated with 24 different networks/alliances and organizations. With the objective of creating public awareness on the issues of food and agriculture to realize the importance of agriculture for food in the context of agriculture development in Nepal, we have been celebrating Food Day for the last 5 years. Over the years it has been established as a forum to raise the collective voices of the general public, farmers, and farming communities to create pressure on policy shapers/makers for formulating effective policy measures.

The debates and discussions around issues of agroecology and close issues were organized mainly virtually with 20 virtual thematic sessions. These sessions were organized by different collaborators depending on their subject area and expertise. An awareness-raising video song, jingles, and publications were also prepared and distributed.

National Inception Workshop – Economic Empowerment of Women through Forest Solutions

A National Inception Workshop for “Economic Empowerment of Women through Forest Solutions”- an Action Research Project funded by IDRC Canada and implemented by a consortium of ForestAction Nepal, The Himalayan Grassroots Women’s Natural Resource Management Association (HIMAWANTI), Association of Family Forest Owner’s, Nepal (AFFON) and Federation of Forest-based Industry and Trade, Nepal (FenFIT-Nepal) was held on 2nd January 2022. The workshop aimed at further refining the methodology, strengthening the research-policy linkage, and building synergy among the stakeholders.

The workshop was participated by 38 members representing Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Department of Forest, Department of Forest Research and Training Center, Universities, Research-based organizations, Civil Society Organizations, journalists, and other organizations.  The program was designed to introduce the project among stakeholders and break-out sessions to discuss existing practices, barriers/issues/challenges, and opportunities around the project themes i.e. Women’s economic empowerment and women agency; Sustainable forest management, and Forest-based enterprises.

The program was successful in obtaining insights on the project components, approaches, including developing a consensus among stakeholders on importance of women’s economic empowerment through low carbon solutions. Majority of the participants highlighted the “forest as a means to prosperity” as envisioned by the Ministry of Forest and Environment.  The stakeholders expressed strong commitments to make the program successful.

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