Rebuilding Nepal: Women’s Roles in Political Transition and Post-Disaster Recovery
Communities experiencing or emerging from conflict are often affected by natural disasters as well, creating unique and intersecting challenges. It is important to understand how fragile communities respond to and address both conflict and disaster relief, rather than examining these as separate and distinct processes. Furthermore, it is crucial to understand the key roles that women play in this intersection; research shows women play particular roles following conflict and disasters, and understanding women’s participation in these overlapping contexts is critical to effective recovery and reconstruction. This study examines the nexus of post-conflict transition and disaster relief and reconstruction, via Nepal as a case study. Women in Nepal have been very active in the political transition, influencing constitutional reform, transitional justice, and legal reform, and have been leaders in organizing disaster relief, providing services to underserved communities and physically rebuilding communities. This study draws from semi-structured interviews conducted in August 2016 with 31 civil society leaders and government officials in Nepal to produce best practices for facilitating and supporting women’s involvement in the nexus of conflict and disaster. The report is centered on two research questions: How have women been involved in Nepal’s political transition since 2006? How have women contributed to the management of and recovery after natural disasters in Nepal since 2006? The paper examines women’s involvement in both of these processes through thematic analysis of the factors that enabled women to work on constitutional reform, transitional justice, legal reform, and disaster recovery as well as the factors that led to the overlap of the roles that women have played in both of these areas of work. The paper provides an introduction to the political economy context of conflict and disaster in Nepal, a discussion of women’s movements in Nepal, a literature review about women and post-conflict reconstruction and women and post-disaster recovery, and analysis of women’s involvement in Nepal in these processes since 2006, based on interviews conducted by the researchers. Finally, the report concludes with best practices intended to serve policymakers in addressing complex situations in states affected by both conflict and disasters in the future. It is vital to understand the roles women in Nepal have played in these two processes and how these roles overlap or intertwine in order to ensure that post-conflict and post-disaster processes support all members of a community and holistically encourage sustainable and equitable reconstruction.