Female staff at health ministry allege discrimination

December 10, 2016 08:40 AM Bishnu Prasad Aryal

KATHMANDU, Dec 10: Some female staffers at the Ministry of Health have complained that they are frequently shunted about within the office to accommodate new staff. Some of them alleged that they have been discriminated against with regard to office space just because they are female.

There are 145 staffers including 20 at the ministry, which is located on the premises of Singha Durbar, the central secretariat. There are 20 female staffers and around half of them are office assistants.

“Under the pretext of this and that, I was shifted six times in six years,” said joint-secretary Ishwari Devi Shrestha, chief of the Hospital and Nursing Administration Division at the MoH. 

“I sometimes think that they are doing this to me because I am a woman,” she lamented. “Recently, the assistants of Minister Gagan Thapa told me to move to another room saying they need my room,” she said. “They came and picked up my computer a few days ago, and told me to go to another room. I shouted at them and they have stopped nagging me.”

Likewise, under-secretary Kalpalata Subba, who was transferred to the MoH six months ago, said she has not been provided a work place. “I have been just sitting in a corner of the room provided to [joint secretary] Ishwari madam. I have been using Ishwari madam’s computer and the chair,” she said.

Subba further said that another under-secretary who is a male and was transferred to the MoH after some weeks of her deputation, has been provided a room and vehicle. 

Joint-secretary Shrestha said she wrote to the senior officials several times to resolve the space problem but things have not improved. “I submitted application three times to our internal office administration and Dr Senendra Raj Uprety, secretary at the MoH. However, our concern has yet to be addressed,” she added.

Joint-secretary Bhogendra Dotel, spokesman of the MoH, said that changing of rooms was normal in the ministry to adjust staff. “Nowadays, every issue is linked to gender and rights, but this is not right,” he said. “On the other hand, Ishwari Shrestha, who is chief the division, is responsible for managing the space and staff under her.”

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