Speaker of Nepal's Parliament Onsari Gharti Magar on Tuesday urged all Nepalis to be committed to ending gender-based discrimination in the country.
Addressing a programme on the occasion of World Population Day, Nepal's first female Speaker said gender-equity can lead to well-managed population and prosperity of the nation, thus families should not discriminate between sons and daughters.
Nepal marked World Population Day under the theme "Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nation" by organising various programmes across the country, Xinhua news agency reported.
"It's your right to choose the number of children you want and when you want to give birth. But I would like to appeal to all the people not to maintain any sort of discrimination between sons and daughters," the Speaker said.
Despite progress in gender-equity and family planning, enormous challenges remain, especially in rural parts of Nepal.
Discrimination on the basis of gender still exists in the country with many couples preferring sons over daughters.
Most women and girls in the southern plains of the country do not receive any education. Sex-selective abortion practice is also prevalent in some parts of the country.
According to a report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 69 per cent of the potential demand for family planning is being met at present while many women who are financially poor and uneducated still lack safe and effective family planning methods.
"Family planning is vital for so many reasons. We know that in Nepal, a lot has been done to ensure contraceptive prevalence and other aspects of family planning. But there is a lot that still needs to be done," said Giulia Vallese, UNFPA Country Representative to Nepal.
UNFPA's report claimed that Nepal's population of 26.5 million, as per the 2011 Census, is projected to grow to 30.4 million by 2021 and 33.6 million by 2031. The fertility and mortality rates in Nepal have been fast declining in recent years.
The Nepali government has allocated 17 per cent of its budget to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals linked to population management.
"Investment on family planning by the government and development partners is increasing. We are moving towards progress but we accept that as compared to other foreign nations, it is not satisfactory," said Bishwa Nath Oli, Secretary at Ministry of Population.
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