“Helping young Chepang women leaders to promote gender responsive governance” project funded by UNDEF kick starts with five days Training of Trainers (TOT) conducted from 4th-8th August 2019 marking its formal beginning. The TOT training with the main objective of strengthening capacity and empowering Chepang women of two municipalities—Icchhyakamana and Kalika—of Chitwan begun with formal inauguration session chaired by the Ms. Shikha Shrestha (ED, DEC Nepal), along with the Santa B. Praja (MP, Province 3), Khum Narayan Shrestha (Mayor, Kalika Municipality), and Laxman Chepang (Chair, Nepal Chepang Association). The opening session was conducted among the 30 participants.
In the opening session, Janak karki (Project Coordinator, DEC-Nepal) briefed on the project and training objectives. The chief guest of the event, Santa B. Praja pointed out that in the previous years of the 5 crore budget allocated by the province government for development of Chepang community of Raksirang and Icchakamana rural municipalities was instead spent on the road development. Therefore, he hopes that Chepang women capacitated through this training would be able to develop proposals and take leadership in fetching budget and actually spending it in development of Chepang community. Similarly, ward chair Bhupendra Chepang (ward 5, Icchakamana) mentioned that marginalized Chepang participation in the local governance process is minimal hence expressed his hope of leadership capacity strengthening and increased participation of Chepang women in policy and decision making post through this training. Additonally, Krishna Bahadur Praja (Ward 11, Kalika) pointed out very important issue of mushrooming of the banking business in the Chepang community that are providing loans at high interest only pulling Chepangs into poverty circle. Hence, he highlighted on need of such training for enhancement of level of consciousness of Chepang community and the necessity of formation of women saving groups for tackling such issues.
Laxman Chepang expressed his concern about the local budget being distribution oriented rather than being need based. He also expressed interest of Nepal Chepang Association working in collaboration with DEC-Nepal to advocate for allocation of local development budget for the socio-economic development of marginalized population. Suresh Adhikari (District Chair, NFN) appreciated DEC-Nepal for conducting program with transparency as compared to number of organizations that are bringing large amount of budget from international donors for development of marginalized but are rarely making any changes. He also hope that this program would play important role in increasing participation of the Chepang women in the local body. In the closing note, Chair of DEC- Nepal, Shikha Shrestha, pointed out that there is minimal participation of women at all levels and that social inclusion and gender quality is essential for attainment of SDG goals hence efforts should be made from the local level. She also mentioned that role of male counterpart is inevitable for support of women development hence the project also focuses on inclusion of male counterparts.
The training was provided at Sauraha within the premises of DEC-Nepal Office to 20 Chepangs from wards 1,2,3,5,6,and 7 of Icchakamana Rural Municipality and ward no 3,8,9,10 and 11 of Kakila Municipality who have been selected as local resource person. Expectations were collected from the participants which reflected on their aspiration to enhance their knowledge on gender quality, social accountability tools, good governance, and local planning process as well as to explore their opportunities to contribute in the local governance. The trainers were provided training on following topics- gender and leadership, good governance, social accountability tools, local planning process and advocacy facilitated by the 6 resource persons (Narendra Prasad Joshi, Sikha Shrestha, Yagya Puri, Santa Bahadur Chepang, and Upendra Poudel). In all the session the 20 LRPs exhibited enthusiasm for learning and actively participated in the entire event. They also expressed their interest and commitment to seek for their right, budget for development of marginalized and representation in the planning process.
In the closing session, the participants reflected on their learnings of this training. Sangita Chepang of Kalika 8 expressed that this training has proved to be a milestone for youths like her and has energized them to contribute in the community development. Similarly, Anju Chepang, ward member of Icchakamana as well as LRP, also pointed out that this training has provided them platform to enhance their knowledge and expressed her interest in lobbying for budget for Chepang women development and spending the same to make significant changes in the community. The chief guest of the closing session, Govinda Ram Chepang (Member of constitutional assembly) with the distribution of the certificate o the participants highlighted on the need of raising the issue of Chepangs from local to provincial to federal level and advocate for development of favorable policies for the marginalized. He also emphasized the necessity of Chepang women leaders acting as change agent/role model for making the locally elected representatives accountable to Chepang’s development. Narendra Prasad Joshi (ED, SAP-Nepal) also stressed on engagement of Chepang women in local policy making process for ensuring gender responsive governance. Project Coordinator Janak karki, expressed that DEC-Nepal feels proud to train 20 dedicated, talented and energetic Chepang women leaders and hopes that these trainees will act as change agent to solve issues of community. He also assured commitment of the DEC-Nepal and Nepal Chepang Association to work as back-force for making the significant changes in the Chepang community in leadership of LRPs. He concluded with a statement that this training is not an end but the beginning of the Chepang women empowerment.