Key Note speech by Right Honourable President Bidya Devi Bhandari following the at  Award at Reykjavík Global Forum – Women Leaders,

First Lady of Iceland Her Excellency Eliza Jean Reid

President and Founder of the Women Political Leaders Ms Silvana Koch-Mehrin,

Distinguished Leaders,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me immense pleasure to be speaking with you today. Coming over from Nepal to Iceland, mine has truly become a journey from the Third Pole to the North Pole. I bring you warmest greetings of the Nepali people from our glorious land of Lord Buddha and Mount Everest. Thank you for inviting me in this global forum of women leaders.

This forum of WPL, through its three-dimension approach of ‘communication, connection, and community’, is not only bringing global leaders together, but also showing a beacon light for gender equality. For us, this forum is also an occasion to celebrate our long journey of struggle for equality, voice, representation, and participation.

As the world faces numerous challenges in several fronts today, it is more important than ever that women and women’s perspectives and approaches be brought to the fore of decision-making process. It is a mother, a wife, and a daughter who are most affected by any crisis. More so, in the global south.

Most recently, Covid-19 pandemic has showed us again that marginalized communities are most vulnerable during crises. And climate change is no different. Today, this global menace has become an existential crisis for us.

In Nepal, the impacts of climate change have been more visible with each passing year, and more devastating. Glaciers are receding, and permafrost is melting in the Himalayan region, posing threats to lives and livelihood of millions of people downstream. Extreme climate events have increased, causing huge loss to economy, ecology and human lives.

Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change, and one of the most resource-constrained. We are bearing a disproportionate burden compared to our negligible share in greenhouse gas emissions. Yet our commitment to climate action is robust. We are determined to implement Paris Agreement and have announced to reach a net zero emission by 2045. Towards this end, we have called for transparent mechanism to ensure the fast-track provisions for resources, transfer of technology, and capacity-building from our development partners.

Madam President,

The future of humanity is at stake. Thus, it is important that women leaders be at the top of global and national decision making.

In Nepal, now we are on course to institutionalize an inclusive democracy that has well embodied principles of human rights, equity, inclusion, and transformation. To be able to bring about an equal and just society, we focus on education and public health. Investment of the sate in these areas have to be consistent and focused. This also aligns with our national objective of becoming a middle-income country in the next two years and achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.

Having said this, we still have a long journey ahead of us to reach full gender parity in our political institutions and other walks of life. We are still far from perfect. We still have the battle to win against the centuries-old social ill and prejudices against women, particularly in remote corners of the country. On this, our determination is unwavering and commitment is firm. And we do have the solid constitutional and legal foundation to build further on.

Madam President,

As I speak in this forum, I have in my mind all those women who have gone through hardships and sufferings befallen on them due to poverty, underdevelopment and deprivation. Those women who have had to break the barriers of many kinds to better their lives and more importantly, the lives of succeeding generations. And I am deeply honoured today to represent these brave women across generations. Honoured to be a part of this collective mission to create an inclusive society where men and women decode the world’s challenges as equals.

Thank you.

09 November, 2022

Reykjavik, Iceland