Author

Research commissioned with support of Department of Arts & Education, Deakin University, Australia

Abstract

Introduction: Nepal is known for its cultural diversity and ethnicity. Despite its unique characteristics, Nepalese society has marked visible social and gender divisions that constrain the overall growth of the nation. Low decision-making power, poor control over assets, long working hours, inadequate membership to community institutions, poor access to credit services, and lack of access to appropriate information are some key indicators. However, it was also worth mentioning that places where there is effective leadership to address the gender-based constraints, the outcomes are more promising in attaining growth, dignity, self-confidence, and respect, answering to some of the common constraints.
Methods: This research relies on literature review, expert interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGD), simulations, and Key Informant Interviews. The expert interviews were conducted in-person to get detailed information on some of the organization-based interventions.
Results: The study showed that since the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the workload pressure has increased especially for women. It also increased the exposure to some of the common risks such as gender-based violence, women & child trafficking, abuses, stress, family tension, health care issues, fear, and other challenges. However, leaderships shown by organizations, communities, and individuals have positive impact on reducing gender-based violence. Also, reduction of other constraints such as long walking to fetch water, long working hours, restricted movements, decision making for self-improvement, lack of recognition, and seeking permission to attend social events has been addressed by community level and individual leaderships. The places where such constraints of the women have been addressed, their engagement in disaster preparedness activities are more promising.
Conclusion: The research study concluded that there is potential leadership among women groups, family members, and community-based organizations to ensure the reduction of gender-based constraints, and it is helping women for productive engagement.  
 

Keywords

 
 ABSTRACT
Introduction
: Nepal is known for its cultural diversity and ethnicity. Despite its unique characteristics, Nepalese society has marked visible social and gender divisions that constrain the overall growth of the nation. Low decision-making power, poor control over assets, long working hours, inadequate membership to community institutions, poor access to credit services, and lack of access to appropriate information are some key indicators. However, it was also worth mentioning that places where there is effective leadership to address the gender-based constraints, the outcomes are more promising in attaining growth, dignity, self-confidence, and respect, answering to some of the common constraints.
Methods: This research relies on literature review, expert interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGD), simulations, and Key Informant Interviews. The expert interviews were conducted in-person to get detailed information on some of the organization-based interventions.
Results: The study showed that since the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the workload pressure has increased especially for women. It also increased the exposure to some of the common risks such as gender-based violence, women & child trafficking, abuses, stress, family tension, health care issues, fear, and other challenges. However, leaderships shown by organizations, communities, and individuals have positive impact on reducing gender-based violence. Also, reduction of other constraints such as long walking to fetch water, long working hours, restricted movements, decision making for self-improvement, lack of recognition, and seeking permission to attend social events has been addressed by community level and individual leaderships. The places where such constraints of the women have been addressed, their engagement in disaster preparedness activities are more promising.
Conclusion: The research study concluded that there is potential leadership among women groups, family members, and community-based organizations to ensure the reduction of gender-based constraints, and it is helping women for productive engagement.  
 
Keywords: Humanitarian Leadership, Gender, Gender constraints, Disaster preparedness 
Introduction
 
Nepal is home to a diverse and rich set of cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions. The Nepalese people are united by principles of toleration, liberality, and open-mindedness(1). Yet, Nepal is also a society characterized by social and gender divisions that constrain growth and limits the ability to realize its full potential. The opportunities, expectations, and experiences available to women and men are very different,not only in professional life but in social roles, relationships, and individual freedoms. Despite being home to multiple cultures and ethnicities, family relationships are led by the patriarchal system of inheritance predominantly through the male line/father and of marriage in which the couple settles in the husband's home or community thatresults in gender disparities, where women enjoy far fewer opportunities than men. Access to fundamental services is unequally distributed (2). Also, in some of the regions, women in a family possess fewer assets than men, despite their bearing responsibility managing the day to day activities of the family, including feeding family members, taking care of elders, livestock, provision of clothes, lighting, and relational obligations.
Prior studies have revealed that women's participation in decision making and asset control is low on a routine basis (3). Various studies demonstrate that women work longer hours compared to men, affecting their decisions to adopt time and labor (3). Cultural norms promote discrepancies in accessing information and support services. Due to poor control over assets, their access to credit services is also deficient (3). Engagement and membership to community-based institutions are inadequate, which limits their willingness to learn, share, and resolve their pressing issues. Nepali history recalled by Frick, Niraula and Morgan reflected that women in Nepal have also experienced restricted autonomy and poor decision making power in all sectors includes livelihood, education, health care, household decision and marriage. Despite progressive legislation, constitutional reform, and recent local elections, real change has yet to take root. Adding to their menace, disasters increase disparity index to many folds. 
Due to its geographical position, Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of natural disasters. Natural hazards such as annual floods, earthquakes, landslides, and avalanches impact the lives of people, their livelihoods, housing, and domestic assets. The April 2015 Nepal earthquake has had a lasting impact on human life, shelter, infrastructure, livestock, household assets, livelihood, and health. Women being the most vulnerable to its impact, challenges are more critical than ever in managing day to day life. The earthquake has exposed the gaps in different VDCs heavily with increased challenges, especially for women to manage their household chores.
However, it is also worth mentioning that places where there is effective leadership to address the gender-based constraints, the outcomes are more promising in attaining growth, dignity, self-confidence, and respect, answering to some of the common constraints. These episodic examples explore new opportunities to study leadership dynamics and approaches that could address the gender-based constraints and bring dignified life for women. This research intends to understand the potential leadership approaches that address the gender-based constraints, which in turn, help in disaster preparedness. The specific objectives are:
  • To Identify the gender-based constraints to lead a dignified quality life in Nepal.
  • To appreciate and recognize the significance of leadership approaches that have the potential to address the gender-based constraints for the wider population.
  • To provide field, management, processes, and documentation perspectives for the evidence collected during the research, including the strengths, learning, and challenges.
  • To create content on "way forward" for different stakeholders to adopt the learning
Materials and Methods
This research relied on literature review, expert interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGD), simulations, and Key Informant Interviews. The expert interviews were conducted in-person to get detailed information on some of the organization-based interventions. Communities were engaged throughout the process and, more specifically, during simulation, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), and Key Informant Interviews (KII). The research findings point to several leadership opportunities and support the need for a nationwide study. INGOs/NGOs would benefit from making strategic steps to incorporate women’s leadership in their program design. Moreover academics should take note of the opportunity to develop case studies on existing barriers and opportunities for women’s leadership to inspire the next generation of women leaders.  This research further highlights the need to create a gender-sensitive disaster-ready society.
The exercises used during the study were primarily explorative, interactive, participative, and qualitative.  Along with interviews with national experts, field observation, and focus group discussions with affected gender groups have played a ,more significant role. Real-time data and experiential learning were captured throughout the process. Secondary data were collected through literature review and through trending the progress indicators with different stakeholders.
Details of interview with experts and subject matter specialist
In-person interviews were conducted with subject-matter specialists to capture experiential learning on five major themes in Nepal. However, the questions were directed only on those issues which intersect leadership, gender constraints, and disaster preparedness. The themes are as follows: Gender, Community based approaches, Humanitarian leadership, Capacity building, Disaster preparedness.
Literature Review 
The research used previous studies on gender, community approaches, gender constraints, indigenous knowledge, and risk management measures. Along with research papers, publications from a different organization, government orders, need assessment reports, and case studies were referred. Altogether the research has reviewed 23 documents and extracted the key findings.
Focus group discussions were conducted in 2 locations. The first one in the Pariyar neighborhood of Changunarayan of Bhaktapur district and the second one in the Banjaraha neighborhood of Rautahat District. Being sensitive towards the issues at the community level, the study involved women, men, elderly, and people living with disabilities to get a holistic idea.
 
Table 1. Details of focus group discussions
Place Number of participants
Pariyar hamlet, Changunarayan, Lalitpur district Male participants: 07 Female participants-12
Rautahat District Male participants: 10 Female participants:14 (separate discussion with men and women)
Table 2 Key informant interview
Place Number of male respondents Number of Female respondents Total
Lalitpur 10 15 25
Suryabinayak 12 13 25
Thangpaldhap 04 09 13
Changunarayan 04 09 13
Rautahat 10 15 25
Total 40 61 101
 
 
Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) were carried out in 5 locations and encapsulate perspective from 101 respondents from the community.
Results
Nepal is one of the best-loved tourist destinations for the travelers as the country ruminates opportunities to see the beauty of Himalaya, cultural diversity, trekking, wildlife, forest, and rich flora and fauna.  The country can be characterized by three distinct regions- Himalaya, Mid hill region, and plain. Himalayan region is the least populated due to extreme cold weather and covers approximately 16% of the total land area.  Sherpa is one of the major ethnic groups residing in this region. Mid hill region covers around 67% of the land and mostly Gurung, Magar, Newar, Brahmin, and Chhetri populate this region. The plain land and forest cover 17% of the land and home to most of the industries and wildlife reserves. However, Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of natural disasters. Natural hazards such as annual floods, earthquakes, landslide, and avalanche impact the lives of people, livelihoods, housing, and domestic assets. April 2015 Nepal earthquake has left a strong impression with widespread impact on human life, shelter, infrastructure, livestock, household assets, livelihood, and health.
As a means to look for more specificities on the type of disasters and its associated impediments that community people face on an annual basis, focus group discussion has been carried out with the residents of Changunarayan. The illustration given by the community on their daily life might resemble with other areas of the country as this hamlet is also located in steep hilly terrain where landslide happens even with the small rainfall. There are people still living under tents or CGI, increasing their vulnerability to many scales, especially for elderly, sick, children, people living with disabilities and women. The majority of the population resides on Maiyani land (The land that people are using since the ancestral time but it is not in their name, it is basically the government land), highlighting land ownership being a concern for them. While discussing with the residents of Changunarayan, it gets clued up that the population encounters many disasters such as floods, landslides, earthquakes, and wildfires. In recent years, storms are also quite frequent. Rainfall is not timely that can support their agricultural activities. Each disaster leaves its footprints in terms of damages, loss, and fear. Lack of earning opportunities increases the vulnerability of people to many folds. Damage to their shelters & infrastructure with loss of food grains, household assets, personal belongings, books, poor access to transport, electricity, and lack of health care facilities are common phenomenon after any disaster. However, the level of impact and scale varies with each incident. Many times community faces safety& security issues mainly through rape, theft, burglary, and breaking.
Recollecting Nepal earthquake 2015 as one of the deadliest incidents of recent times, memories are still fresh in their mind when they were making every attempt to save lives. In just a few moments, the beautiful hamlet turned into ruins left with no option except to live in an open sky. Initial days after the earthquake were furious, encountering frequent aftershocks, confusions, and intense spar to keep self and family alive. In an attempt to understand more on specific challenges of women and men during pre and post-disaster, workload analysis has given useful information. The information shared by people has been grouped in Table 3.
 
Table 3. Specific challenges of women
Pre-disaster Post-disaster
  • In normal circumstances, women’s workload is greater than their male counterparts. Women are engaged in labor from sunrise to sunset.
  • Men enjoy opportunities to earn enough money to support their families.
  • Children’s access to schools is limited in some
    areas.
  • Older people contribute to an extent in household chores, livestock rearing and sometimes caring young ones of the family.
  • People living with disabilities manage their
    day-to-day needs with the support of family members /relatives.
  • With damaged houses, women felt that they have less work cleaning the house, cooking, etc. However, overall workload increases in the wake of new challenges such as searching for family members, sensitivity about protection issues, identifying opportunities to feed family, and managing psychological issues.
  • Men are looking for a job as their earning get stopped.
  • Education facilities are limited to children.
  • Older people are now less able to contribute and dependent on others.
  • People living with disabilities experience greater stress and dependency.
 
 
However, during these difficult times of disasters on an annual basis, the community witnessed leadership that brings their yearning sentient. These community leaders give credence to people to bounce back and take treads to save lives, minimize loss, meet basic survival needs, and direct do's and don'ts to the community. Leaders acknowledge the views of others and help in decision making on mutual grounds. The community expects from leaders to take the risk at a reasonable scale that benefits the whole surviving population. One of the most striking contributions from such leadership qualities is to guide the process of meeting basic survival needs that include the availability of food, water, protection from water & vector-borne diseases, temporary shelter, thwart violence, and ethnic clashes. The impetus is to bring "togetherness" during the crisis that expatiates each other's issues. Depending upon the crisis, leadership also supplemented in the removal of debris and paved ways for external service providers.  The time span of such community-led individual leadership continues till there is the arrival of systematic support from the government or non-government organizations. Local Community Based Organizations (CBO) plays a key role in extending hands to the community for accessing the basic services. In the case of major disasters, managing the logistical supply chain promptly is a significant stumbling block.
 
Table 4. Case study-1: Leadership Approaches at individual, community and organizational level
Individual Level Community-led initiative Local Organization
Mr. Navaraj Pariya
,During the earthquake day, a tailor, and a resident of Changunarayan was in his shop making dresses when he observed the earthquake. He not only saved himself, his family but also saved many people from his neighborhood. He says, " I was safe, my family was safe, so I felt that it's my responsibility to save others as well because we are just ONE. We all need each other during crises.
Sakar Mahila bikas Bahuudhashya Sahari sanastha
This is a woman-led organization constituted after the earthquake to address the issues of women. Now It's a 500-member based community organization that conducts gender training, vocational training, and women empowerment sessions. Along with training, the organization also supports women in the cases preventing multi marriage, Gender-based Violence (GBV). Since its inception, it has received 5 cases of GBV, and all cases have been successfully responded with confidentiality. 
Friends Service Council Nepal (FSCN)
FSCN is a local organization and a member of the DPNet. FSCN conducts training at the community on various thematic areas that includes gender, women empowerment, agriculture, risk reduction. They also took the initiative to distribute relief materials after the earthquake. Community people have realized that these training are quite useful and evince interest to join such training even if they have to leave their day to day work
 
Some Positive Moves in the Community: (Contributions of Individual, community and organizational leadership)
  • Gradually people at the community are talking about equality.
  • To reduce the workload of women, male members of the family helps in fetching water.
  • Since earthquake 2015, many community people are striving their level best to recover the loss, especially their shelter.
  • Community-led women's organization is now planning to cover the issues of single women.
  • During the training programs, men are invited to reduce the bottlenecks of gender-based constraints and women empowerment.
  • Females are getting equipped with knowledge and skills to raise their voices on their development
  • Community is now running a library where during morning and evening time, children have the opportunity to learn more.
  • A special drive for females took place in the community where they are called once in a week at the library to learn mass speaking and elocution skills.  
 
 
In pursuance of conceding more meaningful leadership approaches, the research study analyzed the response from the community and subject matter specialists. Efforts have been made to explore leadership contributions in significant segments of disaster preparedness.
Discussion
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