News and Announcement
National Indigenous Women Forum at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2024 at New York, USA.

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the main UN platform on sustainable development. The theme for 2024 was ‘Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: The effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions’. National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF)'s Chairperson Ms.Suni Lama, Vice-Chair Ms. Yasso Kanti Bhattachan and Member of Gandaki Province Hon. Bimala Gauchan participated at the High Level Political Forum 2024, from 8th July to 18th July 2024 in UN Women Headquarters, New York. 

Ms. Yasso Kanti Bhattachan, Vice-Chair of NIWF, was a speaker at the side event titled "Mapping the Path to Feminist Climate Justice: Redefining the Pact of the Future." This side event was organized by Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), FEMNET, Women Environmental Programme (WEP); Women’s Major Group, WomenPower2030, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development(APWLD), La Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM), GEF Action Coalition on Feminist Action for Climate Justice convened by UN Women.

She provided valuable insights from the perspective of Indigenous Women and offered several recommendations. Ms. Bhattachan emphasized the necessity of addressing intersectionality in any climate action policy, plan, or program. She discussed the significant impact of climate change on Indigenous Peoples in Nepal, highlighting how the livelihoods of Indigenous Women have been adversely affected. Moreover, Ms. Bhattachan pointed out that Indigenous Communities often perceive climate change as a natural phenomenon due to their limited awareness of Sustainable Development Goal 13, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at the grassroots level. This lack of awareness underscores the need for more inclusive and accessible climate education and advocacy efforts.

HLPF is a crucial platform for Indigenous People because it ensures their voices are included in global policy discussions, allowing them to influence decisions that impact their Communities directly. HLPF provides opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to influence policy development and build their capacity for effective international advocacy. Overall, the HLPF plays a vital role in ensuring that Indigenous Perspectives are recognized and valued in sustainable development efforts. So it is important for Indigenous People to participate in HLPF.

2 Day Workshop on Cyber Security: Young Indigenous Women and Girls in Cyber Spaces

On June 28th and 29th, 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), in collaboration with Focus for Indigenous Girls (FIG) and supported by MADRE, organized a 2-day workshop on Cyber Security for young Indigenous Women and Girls at Itahiti-5 Chhampi, Godawari. The workshop specifically targeted Pahari and Nagarkoti Indigenous Girls. NIWF's Chairperson, Ms. Suni Lama, and Treasurer, Ms. Sushila Gole, also attended the program to share their insights on cyber security. The workshop was facilitated by Ms. kabita bahing, an Indigenous feminist storyteller, and Ms. Dikshya Khadgi.

Photo Description: kabita bahing giving presentation on Cyber Security

Day 1: The workshop began with a Mandala Workshop utilizing visual storytelling to explore Indigenous identity by examining concepts of “Intersectionality, Indigeneity, and Indigenous Girls from marginalized Indigenous communities.” Bandana Pahari, the Treasurer of FIG, discussed the current context of the Pahari Community and highlighted key issues. The interaction of marginalized Indigenous identities on the internet was examined, along with the online experiences of Indigenous Women and Girls, associated risks, marginalization, and safety concerns. Participants mapped digital risks specific to Indigenous Girls. The day concluded with assignments on how to safely interact online and identify appropriate online interactions.

Photo Description: Group Photo with their Mandala Art work

Day 2: The second day began with the "Flights of Care" session, focusing on identifying online violence through mapping participants' online experiences. Ms. Dikshya Khadgi, a lawyer, discussed cybersecurity and the legal provisions and policies in Nepal that address online violence. This was followed by an in-depth exploration of the concept and root causes of online violence by Ms. kabita bahing, highlighting the gaps in understanding these issues. The "Hacking Hate" session involved mapping and developing strategies to respond to online violence and threats. This included an introduction to "Hacking Hate," building responses, and creating strategies to ensure online safety at both personal and community levels. The workshop concluded with a visualization of digital safety practices and a summarization and evaluation of the workshop. Certificates were awarded to participants, and the closing remarks were delivered by Ms. Bandana Pahari, Treasure of FIG.

Photo Description: Participant being handed certificate for their participation in the workshop

Photo Description: Banner of the 2-Day Workshop

Supported By:
Training Program on CEDAW GR 39 Implementation in Nepal and Contemporary IPs Issues

On June 22-23, 2024, the National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) held a training program on implementing CEDAW GR 39 in Nepal and addressing contemporary Indigenous Peoples' issues with members of the Women and Social Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. Facilitated by NIWF's Vice Chairperson, Ms. Yasso Kanti Bhattachan, and Executive Director, Ms. Dwarika Thebe, the program opened with a welcome speech from NIWF's General Secretary, Ms. Manmaya Tamang. The chief guest, Hon. Kiran Kumar Shah, also gave a speech. The inauguration ceremony included candle lighting, led by Hon. Kiran Kumar Shah and NIWF's Chairperson, Ms. Suni Lama.Dr. Krishna Bhattachan presented on the major contemporary issues facing Indigenous Peoples, emphasizing the importance of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and highlighting its frequent misuse. Sankhar Limbu discussed the implementation of CEDAW GR-39 within the Nepali legal system, underscoring its crucial role in safeguarding the rights of Indigenous Women and Girls. Himmat Singh Lekali stressed the importance of self-assessment, self-monitoring, and self-negotiation. Simrika Sharma spoke about Data and Information Literacy, the critical role of media in shaping our thoughts, and provided insights on enhancing public speaking skills through media. Arun Rai highlighted the significance of E-Libraries and explained how to effectively utilize them to obtain accurate information.

Training committee members is essential to addressing these issues and fostering equality and social justice. Enhancing the capacities of committee members will strengthen their ability to oversee and evaluate laws and policies, ensuring accountability and better outcomes for Indigenous Women. With this aim NIWF organized this training program with the committee members. The program ended with NIWF's chairperson Ms. Suni Lama's speech thanking everyone for their participation and dedication towards making the program successful.

Photo Description: Candle-lighting ceremony to inaugurate the program.

Supported By:
2nd Indigenous and Local Knowledge Dialogue for the Global Environment Outlook 7

From June 11-13, 2024, Ms. Saraswati Sherpa, the Program Officer of the National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), attended the 2nd Indigenous and Local Knowledge Dialogue for the Global Environment Outlook 7 (GEO-7) held in Oaxaca, Mexico. This event was a significant milestone in the effort to incorporate the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities into the GEO-7 report. The dialogue aimed to enhance the preparation of the GEO-7 assessment by integrating Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Local Knowledge (LK), which are vital for a comprehensive understanding of environmental challenges and solutions. The 2nd IK&LK Dialogue is a follow-up to the first dialogue held earlier in 2024, which took place virtually. These dialogues are part of a broader initiative to ensure that the insights and wisdom of Indigenous and local communities are reflected in global environmental assessments. The inclusion of IK&LK is crucial for developing sustainable and culturally relevant strategies to address environmental issues.The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a series of reports produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that review the state and direction of the global environment. These reports are developed through a global process involving regional, national, and local inputs from around the world. GEO reports provide an authoritative assessment of the environmental challenges facing the planet and offer solutions based on scientific analysis and the knowledge of diverse communities. The program on Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge Dialogue supports the preparation of the GEO-7 report by providing a platform for Indigenous and local perspectives. This approach acknowledges the value of traditional ecological knowledge and the lived experiences of communities who are often on the frontlines of environmental change. By incorporating IK&LK, GEO-7 aims to offer more holistic and inclusive solutions to global environmental issues.

In summary, the 2nd IK&LK Dialogue for GEO-7 in Oaxaca, attended by Ms. Saraswati Sherpa, underscores the importance of integrating diverse knowledge systems into global environmental assessments. This initiative by UNEP reflects a commitment to inclusive and participatory processes in addressing the complex environmental challenges of our time.

Photo Description: NIWF's Program Officer Ms. Saraswati Sherpa sharing her insights.

Photo Description: Offerings from the participants in Day 1.
Press Conference on WHRIA Pilot Test Findings - Addressing Gendered Impacts of Development Projects

On 30th May 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum(NIWF) in collaboration with Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) conducted a press release on the findings of "Women Human Rights Impact Assessment (WHRIA) Pilot Test: Addressing Gendered Impacts of Development Projects". “The Sunkoshi river is connected to our identity and existence; if the hydropower project destroys the river, our existence, identity – language, rituals, culture – will be destroyed as well.” This was the resounding call of the Women from Kunauri and Bhatauli Communities who lamented the life-changing impacts of the Sunkoshi hydropower dam. Indigenous Communities are facing the threats of forced displacement and the subsequent loss of livelihoods, potential discrimination in enjoyment of economic and social rights, and the disruption to the beliefs and practice of cultural rituals and traditions that are essential rights of the Majhi Indigenous Peoples. Women will also face additional struggle of fending for their family.

“What is the point of land if there is no river?” said Mamta Mahji, a Woman leader in the Community. “Our rituals and rites are intimately connected to the Sunkoshi river. It is our life, it is for the celebration of birth, marriage, and death. How can we honour our ancestors if we lose our river?”

“The current global model of development, which hinges on the indiscriminate use and conversion of the rich natural resources, is detrimental to Indigenous, rural Women,” said Eloisa Delos Reyes Programme Officer of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development. “Losing their access to forest and rivers that they have long been conserving and sustainably using will exacerbate the crises the Women are facing, and will double on women’s ability to sustain their livelihood and enjoy their economic and social rights, and furthering climate impacts.”

“Indigenous Peoples, including Majhi, are solutions, not problems to accelerating the climate crisis. Hence, there is an urgency to save Indigenous Peoples like Majhi to save our planet, Mother Earth. Therefore, we call upon the Nepal government, specially the Department of Electricity Development (DoED), business companies, national and international investors, and international development partners to meaningfully comply with the UNDRIP, ILO Convention No. 169, CEDAW GR. No. 39 and other international human rights,” said Yasso Kanti Bhattachan, Vice-chairperson of NIWF.

Women Human Rights Impact Assessment (WHRIA) Pilot Test: Addressing Gendered Impacts of Development Projects

In 2018-2020, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), conducted the Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) that revealed the gendered impacts of the Sunkoshi-II Hydropower Dam that the Mahji Indigenous Community was facing. Along the course of the participatory study, it was determined that the Indigenous Women in the target site for the development project are unaware of the construction that will threaten their human rights, lives and livelihood including those of the others in the Communities. Currently, not much is known about the status of the Sunkoshi-II and Sunkoshi-III projects. Public hearings and consultations have supposedly been announced where various groups and sectors were encouraged to participate and chime in with regards to the possible impact of the development project. However, with the lack of diverse sources for news or updates on the hydropower dam, the development projects appear to remain shrouded in secrecy and lack of transparency.

Protecting the rights of the Indigenous Women and Communities against these threats entail strengthening their capacity to analyze and discern the possible impacts of these development projects. It also entails exercising their rights to information, participation and self-determination, thus the close understanding and application of FPIC is a must among the affected communities. From 28 to 29 May 2024, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), together with the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) conducted the Women Human Rights Impact Assessment (WHRIA). The impact assessment was conducted in the Majhi Communities in Manthali to determine the status of the hydropower dam project and assess the human rights situation of the Indigenous Women, particularly in exercising their right for participation, access to information and self-determination. The groups also looked at the potential impacts of the development project that threatens the very existence of the Mahji people and endangers their culture and lives. WHRIA aims to serve as a tool for grassroots women’s organisations in their advocacy against development projects that can harm their lives and livelihoods. Through community visits, dialogues, and media actions, the pilot test aimed to gather vital information, document community narratives, identify human rights violations, and chart pathways for advocacy and action.

Consultation meeting on "Preliminary Position Paper Draft on the Inclusive and Sustainable Implementation of the Reintegration Programme 2079" in Chautara Sagachokgadhi Municipality.

On May 17, 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), supported by Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), conducted a consultation meeting on the "Preliminary Position Paper Draft on the Inclusive and Sustainable Implementation of the Reintegration Programme 2079" in Chautara Sagachokgadhi Municipality. The event gathered local stakeholders, including human rights defenders, journalists, government representatives, local NGOs, media, and the SaMi Project, to discuss the effective economic reintegration of Returnee Migrant Women and Indigenous Women in the municipality.

Sanu Maya Tamang, an Indigenous Returnee Migrant Women (IRMW) representative, presented the preliminary position paper draft. Following the presentation, participants provided insights, status updates, and constructive feedback. Their suggestions, comments, and queries were noted for potential inclusion in the revised position paper. The meeting also introduced mechanisms and strategies to the "Laganshil Adiwasi Mahila Samuha", focusing on how they can collectively support Returnee Migrant Women throughout the municipality, beyond just Wards 1 and 5.

The session concluded with the leader of the Group addressing all recommendations and suggestions made by the local stakeholders, ensuring their concerns and ideas were acknowledged and considered for future action.