Nepal has a female president and a Constitution that reserves positions in government and legislatures to women, and in the foreign service women diplomats make up more than half the ranking staff. Five of Nepal’s 25 currently serving ambassadors are women.
During the Covid-19 crisis, Nepal’s women ambassadors have shown that they are as good as, if not better than, their male colleagues in ensuring the welfare of Nepalis abroad as well as projecting the country’s international image.
“Society must stop judging women simply for their gender. We are not men, and we shouldn’t be compared to them. Our inherent femininity, sensitivity, nurturance, emotional temperament, are our best qualities,” says Nepal’s ambassador to Oman Sarmila Parajuli Dhakal, who has been praised for ensuring the repatriation of stranded Nepali workers, and bargaining with airlines to get them cheaper air fares than those negotiated by the government in Kathmandu.
In June, Dhakal personally went to Muscat airport to see off the first batch of returning workers. As of this week, the embassy had arranged seven rescue flights, repatriating 1,178 stranded workers. Between 10% to 30% of migrant workers in various Gulf states have lost their jobs, and Nepal’s embassies in other Gulf countries are struggling with the sheer numbers who want to return.
Last month, Ambasador Dhakal and the Oman Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement to lease land for construction of a permanent Nepal Embassy in Muscat, a diplomatic milestone for a Gulf monarchy that is emerging as a major destination for Nepali workers, as well as source of tourism and investment.