Norway mandated ISSAT to map an overview of the Nepalese population’s emerging needs and identification of possible areas for future programmatic support related to justice sector reform.
From conception, the mandate strived to incorporate gender perspectives into the methodology by creating a diverse team of experts with profiles that were able to reflect upon the full spectrum of security and justice challenges. This meant that the team did not select female or male members so as to create a gender-balanced team, but instead prioritising the knowledge of each expert. Hence, the ISSAT team included a regional expert, who had previous in-depth knowledge and understanding of governance, security, and justice issues in Nepal, as well as two further experts who were able to capture links between gender and the sector areas or issues being dealt with, in the aim to promote gender equality whether in developing policy or initiatives in specific institutions.
The mandate focused on the identification of the institutional gaps stemming from unmet needs of some of the most vulnerable individuals/groups. For example, cognisant of the endemic level of gender-based violence in Nepal, the team engaged ten local organisations that specifically worked on gender-related abuses to guide in the data collection. The team further articulated in its methodology, the need for institutions to become more responsive to the security and justice needs of women/girls by enabling more access and providing more inclusive approaches to gaining access.
The methodology employed the collection of sex-disaggregated information to capture the specific gender-related vulnerabilities, gaps and issues. To provide recommendations conducive to the goal of reaching a basic level of justice provision, the team took into account the diverse needs of the population by using a methodology aimed to mainstreamgender perspectives throughout the mandate as part of a set of critical core issues. For example, to ensure that the assessment process was gender sensitive, the ISSAT team mainstreamed gender via key questions relevant to some of the most vulnerable groups, and integrated sex-disaggregated data collection in order to create an evidence base. In addition, the mandate’s Terms of Reference articulated the requirement of an Options Paper, so as to gain a clearer analysis on specific issues that relate to gender. For example, for many women, marginalised communities and children, social barriers remain the primary obstacle preventing access to justice. The social barriers differ substantially amongst ethnic groups and can range from lack of economic empowerment, traditional values, or even established practice at community level.
Understanding that substantive progress in security and justice reform will likely be a determining factor in the extent to which the Government of Nepal will be able to achieve meaningful and sustainable progress across all Sustainable Development Goals beyond just Goal 16, the team presented the crucial link to gender equality (goal 5). Therefore, the report reiterates incorporating a gendered analysis across all sections.
- There is a proved benefit to engaging with local partners to identify the most vulnerable and marginalised groups and disaggregating justice needs based on age, ethnicity, geographic location etc.
- The inclusion of professionals with relevant diverse expertise who have a cross-cutting gender lens, played a critical role in determining and capturing clear linkages between gender and broader issues such as access to justice, and gender-related threats such as human trafficking and modern day slavery (to name a few) which disproportionately impact vulnerable and marginalized groups, and significantly children, women, and members of lower caste who are more at risk.
- The added value of providing an Options Paper as one of the outputs, specifically targeting gender equality, ensures that gender is a core issue with complex characteristics (encompassing class, race, religious affiliation and poverty levels) and thus needs to be addressed consistently to promote more gender responsive and inclusive security and justice institutions.