Gender Equality Update no. 32 - GESI Mainstreaming in COVID-19 Response: Needs and challenges that women and excluded groups continue to experience during the current wave of COVID-19 (July 2021)

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The Gender in Humanitarian action (GiHA) task team Meeting on 8 June 2021 continued to focus on the immediate needs and challenges of excluded and vulnerable groups during the current wave of coVid-19 in Nepal. the meeting included representatives from organizations / networks of LGBTQ+ communities, single women, returnee women migrant workers, home-based workers, women engaged in sex work, women with disabilities, indigenous women, Dalit women, Madhesi women, Muslim women, indigenous women and rural women, as well as the Humanitarian and disaster risk reduction network, among other organisations.

COVID-19 Crisis Management Ordinance 2021

The COVID-19 Crisis Management Ordinance 2021 was promulgated in response to the unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic. Through this ordinance a COVID-19 Directive Committee chaired by the Prime Minister and a Provincial Directive Committee chaired by the Chief Minister has been created. It supports institutional arrangements, such as the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre, and designated Chief District Officers as the Response Officers in each of Nepal’s 77 districts. It also established the COVID-19 Unified Center Hospital in Kathmandu, that will offer integrated treatment and coordinate between all healthcare institutions to monitor oxygen support and hospital beds. The ordinance also introduced health emergency provisions in a public health crisis, such as the lockdown. In addition to this, it established a COVID-19 response fund and a fast-track modality for services and procurement. It also offers exemptions on mandatory dates in court hearings and granted special privileges during lockdown periods (for example on tax payment deadlines and revenue payments), allowing support for marginalized women. Furthermore, it ensures continuity in public information, preventing rumours and misleading information. A limitation of the ordinance, as shared by the Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), is that it does not include any provision for representation of women and excluded groups in the COVID-19 Directive Committee, the Provincial Directive Committee and the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre.