News and Announcement
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.
2024-06-11
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.

2024-05-30
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.



2024-05-28
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.

Additionally, storybooks were distributed to the participants.


2024-05-17
Distribution of Stationery to IGOF Scholarship Candidates in Dolakha

National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) launched the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) in 2023 to champion equal access to education for Indigenous Girls. Dedicated to supporting these young learners, IGOF offers educational assistance to selected candidates from Marginalized and endangered Communities, particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Emphasizing empowerment through education, IGOF aims to uplift and transform lives by providing essential educational support to those who need it most. 

In 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) selected two candidates from Ward No. 9 of Kalinchowk Rural Municipality in Dolakha district for the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) scholarship. The selection process involved comprehensive interviews conducted by NIWF staff, assessing the candidates' economic status and academic interests. The interviews included discussions with both the students and their parents. Additionally, NIWF staff visited the candidates' homes to ensure a thorough evaluation of their suitability for the scholarship.  On May 16, 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) traveled to Dolakha to provide necessary stationery items to the two selected candidates. The team visited the candidates' school and held a brief meeting with the teachers. During the meeting, they informed the teachers about the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) and explained the selection process for the candidates. Following the meeting, the school principal presented the students with the stationery items provided by NIWF.

Photo description: The Principal of Shree Kalika Secondary School providing stationery items to the two IGOF candidates.

Photo Description: Homes of the two IGOF candidates in Kalinchowk Rural Municipality Ward No. 9 in Dolakha District.

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2024-05-16
National Indigenous Women Forum(NIWF) at the Twenty sixth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nairobi, Kenya 2024

Ms. Suni Lama, Chairperson of National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), and Ms. Yasso Kanti Bhattachan, Vice-Chairperson of NIWF along with Government delegate Dr. Rajendra KC, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Forests and Environment, participated in the Twenty-Sixth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-26) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in Nairobi, Kenya 2024. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) is a subsidiary body of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Its main role is to provide the Conference of the Parties (COP) with timely advice related to the implementation of the Convention. SBSTTA addresses various scientific and technical aspects of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use, and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from genetic resources.

National Indigenous Women Forum(NIWF) in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples representatives of NDN Collective(Canada, USA, Mexico), IITC2, Qe’qchi People of Laguna, (Belize), Jamii Asilia Center(Africa Region, Kenya), and the Inuit Circumpolar Council submitted Indigenous Peoples’ Position Statement for the separation of the terms Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities(regularly referenced as IPLC), to prevent further conflation and undermining of Indigenous Peoples’ rights frameworks.

In the position paper, they made the following recommendations at the Twenty-Sixth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-26) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): Promote respect for, recognition of, and full application of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Update working methods, Ensure accurate data and relevant information, Avoid Discrimination, Use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the minimum standard, Reform procedural rules, Adopt distinctions-based policies, Utilize distinction-based language.

This position statement was submitted to provide resolution and clarity to the conflation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) and to respond to the motion made by the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the SBSTTA26, to maintain this conflation.

2024-05-15
Historic Announcement: Official Recognition of Nepal Bhasa(Newar) and Tamang Indigenous Languages in Nepal

May 6, 2024 (Baisakh 24, 2081) stands as a momentous day for the Indigenous Communities of Nepal, marking a significant achievement in their ongoing struggle for recognition and inclusion. Amidst a vibrant gathering in Basantapur, Kathmandu, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal made a historic announcement regarding the provincial government's decision to use Nepali, Tamang and Nepal Bhasha (Newari language) as the languages of official business across the province. To commemorate this milestone and heighten public awareness, the provincial government of Bagmati Province has declared May 6, 2024, a public holiday. This decision not only signifies linguistic diversity but also represents a significant step towards recognizing and honoring the cultural heritage of Indigenous Peoples within the region. 

National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) partook in a powerful march in celebration of a monumental milestone for Indigenous Communities of Nepal. The atmosphere was charged with joy and triumph as members of various Indigenous groups, joined together in solidarity, celebrating the culmination of their tireless advocacy efforts. This day will be remembered as a beacon of progress and inclusivity, a testament to the enduring spirit and resilience of Nepal's Indigenous Communities.
The photograph below captures a vibrant moment as "Tamang Jhākris" take center stage, exuberantly performing to commemorate the historic declaration of Tamang and Nepal Bhasa as official languages alongside Nepali. Their spirited performance encapsulates the joy and significance of this linguistic milestone, reflecting the cultural richness and diversity of Nepal's Indigenous Communities. 

2024-05-06
Establishment of Library for the Bankariya, Chepang and Tamang children of Musedhap, Ward No. 4 of Manahari Rural Municipality, Makwanpur district

National Indigenous Women Forum(NIWF) with the support from MADRE, celebrated the officially inauguration of a library for the Bankariya, Chepang, and Tamang children of Musedhap located in Ward No. 4 of Manahari Rural Municipality, Makwanpur district. With the primary aim of providing a safe haven for children to explore and expand their knowledge, the library's inception embodies a commitment to educational advancement. 

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was graced by esteemed figures including Mr. Prakash Thapa, the Ward Chairperson, Ms. Suni Lama, Chairperson of NIWF, and Ms. Yasso Kanti Bhattachan, Vice-Chairperson of NIWF. This marked marked the auspicious commencement of the library's official operations, signifying a pivotal moment for the Local Community's educational landscape.NIWF provided essential items such as shoes, bags, notebooks, pencils, pens, and geometry boxes to a total of 41 children, including those from Bankariya, Chepang, and Tamang Communities. NIWF also provided book cupboards, cushions, tables, carpets and whiteboards for the library. Additionally, "Room to Read," an organization, contributed 300 books for the library enriching the library's resources. Through these collaborative efforts, the library emerges not only as a physical space but as a beacon of hope and opportunity, poised to empower generations to come through the transformative power of education.Notable speakers, like Vidur Thapa from the Manahari Rural Municipality's Education Department, Ashok Sujan Shrestha, Chairperson of Federation of Nepalese Indigenous Journalists (FONIJ) Makwanpur, and Sushila Gole, Treasurer of National Indigenous Women Forum, echoed the profound significance of education in shaping the future of the younger generation.The Bankariyas are endangered Indigenous Community of Nepal with a mere population of 180 according to the 2021 Census out of which only 86 of them speak their Mother tongue. In the 2011 National Census, Bankariyas were not recorded as they were not recognized till then. Two decades ago, the Bankariyas, once nomadic hunter-gatherers, originated from Chureghanch, a remote dense forest in the Chure range. In 1995, only 12 Bankariyas were reported living a nomadic lifestyle in the area. However, following the ten-year Maoist insurgency in Nepal, their freedom of movement in the Chure forests was severely restricted. This compelled them to abandon their ancestral lands and migrate to the lowlands for refuge.

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2024-05-04
Report sharing on "A Report on the Situation of Gender-based Violence against the Chepang Women of Ichchhakamana Rural Municipality in Chitwan" and "A Policy Review of Ichchhakamana Rural Municipality’s Policies and Programmes for FY 2023/2024 (2079/2080 BS) from Gender Equality and Social Inclusion and Indigenous Perspectives"

On April 26, 2024, the National Indigenous Women Forum-NIWF, in collaboration with UNDP, hosted a gathering to share two reports:A Report on the Situation of Gender-based Violence against the Chepang Women of Ichchhakamana Rural Municipality in Chitwan, and another "A Policy Review of Ichchhakamana Rural Municipality’s Policies and Programmes for FY 2023/2024 (2079/2080 BS) from Gender Equality and Social Inclusion and Indigenous Perspectives". Hon. Kiran Kumar Sah, Chair of the Women and Social Affairs Committee of Nepal's House of Representatives, graced the event, which was chaired by Ms. Suni Lama, NIWF's chairperson, alongside Mr. Indra B. Poudel, secretary of the Women and Social Affairs Committee, and Mr. Divas Rai, General Secretary of NEFIN, as special guests. 

This gathering served as a platform not only to unveil the final findings and recommendations encapsulated within the reports but also to foster an environment conducive to the exchange of insightful suggestions and perspectives from the diverse array of participants. Representatives from various organizations, including NIWF-Federation, INOWLAG, experts, Nepal Disabled Women Association (NDWA), and the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), contributed to the enriching discourse.

Through this collaborative effort, the event aimed not only to shed light on the pressing issues faced by Indigenous Women but also to catalyze actionable steps toward fostering greater gender equality, social inclusion, and Indigenous empowerment within the fabric of local policies and programs.



2024-04-26
Distribution of Stationery to IGOF Scholarship Candidates in Sankharapur

National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) launched the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) in 2023 to champion equal access to education for Indigenous Girls. Dedicated to supporting these young learners, IGOF offers educational assistance to selected candidates from Marginalized and endangered Communities, particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Emphasizing empowerment through education, IGOF aims to uplift and transform lives by providing essential educational support to those who need it most.

On April 23, 2024, NIWF’s team  made a meaningful trip to Sankharapur as part of their ongoing commitment to the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) initiative launched in 2023. NIWF distributed essential stationery items and school uniforms to the two selected candidates who had received scholarships through IGOF. NIWF team held a brief yet significant meeting with the Vice-Principal of the school. This meeting served as an opportunity to engage with the school administration and gain valuable insights into the academic journey and progress of the two scholarship recipients. The Vice-Principal shared updates on the students' studies, highlighting not only the challenges they faced but also the achievements after the scholarship. This interaction not only reinforced NIWF's commitment to supporting these young learners but also allowed us to better understand the impact of their educational assistance.

Through the IGOF initiative, NIWF aims to empower Indigenous Girls by providing them with the resources and opportunities they need to succeed academically and build a brighter future for themselves and their Communities. In addition to distributing stationery items and school uniforms to the scholarship recipients, NIWF also provided ration supplies to support the families of the two candidates during their visit to Sankharapur on April 23, 2024.

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2024-04-23