Say No To Male Panel

Arpana Adhikari

Are you tired of attending and watching manel, an all-male panel preaching and discussing over every single affair? Then stop agreeing to be on all-male panels and just say big No-No to all male-panel. It’s a high time that you should noisily stand up against the events that featuring all male experts and walk out even more noisily to make the organiser realise that this is not a fair treat. The trend of manel is not going away, until we get up and walk heck out of it.
Either, you are male or female, don’t hesitate; take a stand and just say no to all-male panel, a very simple effort to achieve gender equality and end to all-male panels. If you are thinking that you are alone in this drive to slam all organisers that entertain manel, then you are wrong. Our Deputy-Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwor Pokharel has already made a commitment that he would not take a part in or to host panels comprised only men.
DPM Pokhrel made such a commitment while launching the campaign called, ‘Say No to Male Panel.’ Opposing a practice of male-dominated panels, that remain widely prevalent in public events in the country, recently the movement was initiated by Saathi and Men Engage Alliance. The campaign can turn really effective in the country like Nepal where women were sparsely represented as a panelist in public events.
Shedding light on the campaign, vice-chair at UN CEDAW Committee Bandana Rana, who is the main campaigner of this movement said when political and development progarmmes come together, it’s shocking how only few or no woman is invited to speak.
Gender equality devlop
“Our goal is to turn say no to manel, into the yes to more female speakers and bring more diversity in public debate,” said Rana. “When you are invited to participate in a panel, ask the organiser who else is speaking. Tell them you have made a pledge to avoid all-male panels and can’t speak where there are no women going. And suggest the organiser about the need for a diversity of voices,” she said.
She said Nepal is well known for its progressive constitutional provisions with regard to gender equality. There are 32.7 per cent of women in lower house and 37.3 per cent in the Upper House, while 40 per cent women are playing their different roles in local governments.
Despite such a progressive commitment, women participation in the public panels is very negligible, said Rana.
“Women could be seen as a panelist, when there is a discussion over women’s issue. But, when it comes about the public events on non-traditional issues like, science, technology, investment and entrepreneurship, women participation is almost nil,” she added. Indicating the Investment Summit hosted recently by the government, Rana said even the biggest stage for business and investment failed to give a prominent stage to women entrepreneurs and investors.
She believed that a high level commitment from DPM, Pokharel would institutionalise this notion and ensure women participation in the most important panel discussions. Opposing the argument that inability to find female experts as the reason for not inviting them, she said “We need to adopt flexibility here. We can create enabling environment to empower women to speak and this would help to generate a pipeline for female leaders for future panels.
We have talked a lot about gender equality, but have never realised that we have failed to address the very real issue of gender diversity on the very panel that we are sitting on. The campaign can be boon to increase women panelist in the country, where conferences and public debates, with a 100 per cent male speakers line up are not rare.
Along with neither female participants, if the male speakers will start refusing to participate in conferences and panel discussion without female representation, a day is nor far when a panel with equal representation will be a common sites. It’s time for men to stand for this pro-gender cause and realise how increased equality not only ensures justice but also helps build prosperous society. 

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