Women Inclusion in Politics

Policy Advocacy and Capacity Building for Women's Political Inclusion: Its impact from Grassroots to Centre level

Background:

Nepalese women consist of nearly 51 percent of the total population. However, they do not have equal and proportional share in the pie than that of their male counter-part. They are lagging behind in almost all sectors. Their status in health, education, politics, participation in decision making, access to policy making, and enjoyment of human rights is very poor. It would not be an exaggeration to say that women are economically, socially and politically excluded in Nepal.

About 42 percent of the Nepalese women are literate, and 60 percent of them are economically active (CBS, 2003), whereas participation of women in politics is very negligible. Many policies and programs have been formulated regarding the protection and promotion of human rights, enhancing good governance and ensuring sustainable peace by the government sectors and political parties but women’s participation and role therein is often neglected and ignored. Those women who are in the frontline are very few and their voice is rarely heard. Apparently, the major obstacle for woman’s empowerment and women's advancement in Nepal is low level participation of women in politics. There are very few women in policy making bodies at all level and sectors, including political parties and parliaments. In the dissolved House of Representatives, only 12 women had been elected as Members of Parliaments (MPs) which counted hardly six percent of total members. There were 57 women legislatures in the Interim Parliament which counts for 17 percent. Currently, the election of April 2008 was able to ensure more than 33% women in constituent assembly. This number has gone higher because of the provision of at least 50% women in proportional representation system. In civil service, the situation worse in terms of women's representation as women occupy only 8 percent seats. Furthermore, this number decreases in the decision making level down to 4 percent.

In 1997, the government introduced Local Self Governance Act (LSGA) which enabled as many as 40,000 women to get involved in local level politics as twenty percent seats were reserved for women at ward level of VDCs and municipalities. However, this did not bring significant changes in women's level of participation in politics because of a couple of reasons. First, reserved seats for women were very low compared to their population. Second, reservation was limited to ward level and no special measures were considered to enhance women's participation in decision making level. No woman has so far been elected as mayor, deputy mayor or DDC chairperson (ESP, 2001).

Jagaran Nepal Intervention on Women's Inclusion in Politics:

Considering these facts Jagaran Nepal conducted a program in eleven districts with the goals to contribute towards creating opportunities for women in political parties through policy advocacy and capacity building. The major purpose of this project is to increase participation of marginalized and excluded women in politics at all levels and in key posts/portfolios of policy and decision making levels from centre to community.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Policy level advocacy for ensuring at least 33%                                  (Women Political leaders using Jagaran Women participation at all state mechanims)                                                                          Resource Centre)

Jagaran Nepal conducted the first phase project "CapacityBuilding Program for Women Involved in Politics" for the past two years (2006-2008), and a number of lessons have been learned and various ideas have been developed in consultation with mainly the women leaders. Based on the first phase project, the second phase project was developed “Policy Advocacy and Capacity Building for Women’s Political Inclusion-WIP” in 11 districts namely Morang, Sunsari, Khotang, Surkhet, Dailekh, Doti, Dadeldhura, Kaski, Tanahun, Kavre and Sindhupalchowk of five development regions and its 55 VDCs with the assistance of Rights Democracy and Inclusion Fund (RDIF). A total of 275 women leaders were capacitated to involve in politics as a result 24 women leaders got opportunity to be CA member from first phase project in 2008. From the second phase project started from October, 2010 and ended in December, 2011.

The project intervention in the field of women's political participation and inclusion became instrumental and exemplary one  in contributing increased participation and inclusion in politics, legislature and at ministerial level also. Similarly, it became successful in building capacity of political women leaders of centre and district and potential leaders of 55 VDCs of project districts. Further, most of the women political leaders' capacity has been enhanced in transferring their skills and knowledge at VDC and district levels. Similarly, a remarkable number of critical mass of people on the advocacy of women rights and inclusion issues are being formed. The political parties are positive towards gender sensitive approach in their party documents. These are some of the major achievements through the intervention of 2-phase-project funded by RDIF. Working in the field of women rights and women's inclusion in politics, Jagaran Nepal has now been established as one of the leading organizing in Nepal on the strategic advocacy on women's inclusion in politics and women rights.  During the project period following achievements were observed as

 

 

 

 

 

 

(National Level Sharing Program on Women's                                                     Inclusion in Politics, Kathmandu)                                                 (Community Level Interaction, Doti ) 

 

Major Achievements:

Achievements within the political party

  • Commitments from the political parties to implement gradually the recommendations given for inclusive and proportionate participation of women at their party structures and in their laws and bylaws in coming days.
  • Youth leaders of various ideological camps were able to put aside their party manifestoes and create a learning environment during the training courses and interactions.
  • This phase project became successful in developing around 10 % trainers from the participants of around 284 women political leaders of the districts. The previous project of 2006-08 also developed 50 trainers and they were mobilized for community level training in this phase of project.
  • Women CA members and leaders are taking initiative in raising the issues of women's inclusive participation in political parties and at ministerial level too. 

Skill Transfer/Empowerment

  • The women political leaders of the districts and the potential leaders of the VDCs started to transfer the skills and knowledge they have learned from the project at their circles. The potential women leaders of some VDCs are taking initiatives for getting funds available at local level by preparing simple fund request proposals.
  • The potential women leaders of some VDCs have formed themselves strong networks spontaneously at VDC level for the advocacy of women rights. Through the networks they are taking initiatives to get the funds from local authorities and using it for women's development.
  • The potential leaders of some VDCs seem highly interested to be a part of political party of their wish and are taking membership too.
  • Some potential women leaders of VDCs are taking initiatives in opening social organizations at their VDCs and a woman from Surkhet district became the president of a Co-operative as per the recommendation of VDC secretary after our intervention at VDC level training.
  • The women political leaders and some women CA members, who took computer and English language class in the first phase project, are taking membership of "Jagaran Women Resource Centre". Similarly, the youth political and social leaders are taking the membership of resource centre. The centre has become a common place for all women CA members, women political leaders and civil society leaders. Especially, women leaders seem feel very comfortable using the centre effectively.

Increasing Trend of Women's Inclusive Participation in Political Parties

  • Due to regular advocacy of all women activists, civil society members and premeditated advocacy, lobby and capacity enhancement role of Jagaran Nepal within political parties and all stakeholders, there is a progressive and proactive trend in women's inclusive participation in political parties.
  • The women's participation in politics is increased from 9.1% to 16 percent in centre committees and from 9.5% to 22 percent in district committees in an average.
  • The current government seems positive enough in incorporating women's representation and it is now 22 percent women's representation in total ministers.
  • From inclusion point of view, Dalits women participation in politics is 24%, Janajati women's participation in politics is 20.5%, Chhetri women's participation is 21.5% and Braman women's participation is 20.9%. Similarly, Muslim women's participation is 7.8% and Madhesi women's participation is 14%.. Source: Status of women in political parties and CSOs of Nepal, Jagaran Nepal, 2011            

Women Leaders Capacity Enhanced

  • Around 1400 inclusive potential women leaders' belonging to political parties, civil society capacity has been enhanced. These women leaders were disperse at their community and are now gathered with a big hope for their capacity building and development. They are now capable in raising awareness and taking leadership opportunities at community and district levels.
  • 50 inclusive women political leaders of 11 districts are transferring their skills of human rights, women rights, gender, advocacy, leadership, inclusion etc. at district and community levels.
  • 284 inclusive women political leaders, who are mostly DCMs of existing political parties of the districts, are now potential in raising awareness on human rights, women rights, gender, inclusion and taking leadership opportunities at district level.
  • 39 inclusive youth political leaders are now capable in raising awareness and taking leadership opportunities at their circles.

Others

  • The community people, civil society members and other concerned stakeholders have expressed their positive feeling towards the impact of the Jagaran Nepal's activities.
  • Due to this achievement, other organizations and persons from civil society have come to join hands in this issue with Jagaran Nepal and offered some activities and intervention regarding women in politics and women's meaningful participation in CA process and election.
  • The TV and Radio talk show are gradually being popular in the realm of political leaders, women CA members, grassroots women and civil society. The regular policy level advocacy as well as strategic awareness on women issues is being possible through these shows.

Program Lesson Learned

  • Necessity of package training for potential women leaders and women political leaders in enhancing their leadership and advocacy skills for political participation and linking their skills in grabbing local funds for overall development of women in the districts and VDCs.
  • Skill transfer opportunities should be provided to the leaders to grooming their skills, capacity and developing confidence.
  • Participation of women in politics depends upon the policy and decision of the party leadership who usually are men. So, the project has to plan for male leaders' sensitization and influence strategy for inclusive participation of women in politics.
  • The active women alliances and networks should be further strengthened for effective lobby and advocacy on women issues and its legal formulization at political and government levels.
  • Political neutrality, inclusiveness and space for identify politics and views are essential for the success of intervention.
  • Potential women leaders identification and their empowerment is effective way for the inclusion of women in politics
  • The economic empowerment package program is equally important for women leaders as they have to depend on their male counterparts for their financial need.
  • Project advisory unit and coordinating role of organization is crucial for maintaining effectiveness of any project.
  • The sustainability and institutionalization of the process initiated by the project cannot be achieved as according to the set goals and objectives of the project if it does not accomplish the required duration needed for achieving it.
  • Youth sensitization and advocacy is the best way to hit the ball of inclusive participation of women in politics and CSOs. It is because that youth are the future generation and if we have to create the critical mass for the advocacy then youth sensitization is most.
  • Common platform should be developed at centre and district levels for women leaders to initiating the strategic campaign for women's inclusion in politics.

Conclusion

Jagaran Nepal has successfully accomplished the two-phase project funded by RDIF. The first phase project was accomplished in the 2008 and the second phase project started from October, 2010 will be end in December, 2011. The project intervention in the field of women's political participation and inclusion became instrumental and exemplary one in contributing increased participation and inclusion in politics, legislature and at ministerial level also. Similarly, it became successful in building capacity of political women leaders of centre and district and potential leaders of 55 VDCs of project districts. Further, most of the women political leaders' capacity has been enhanced in transferring their skills and knowledge at VDC and district levels. Similarly, a remarkable number of critical mass of people on the advocacy of women rights and inclusion issues are being formed. The political parties are positive towards gender sensitive approach in their party documents. These are some of the major achievements through the intervention of 2-phase project funded by RDIF. Working in the field of capacity building and policy advocacy for women's political inclusion has also enhanced the capacity of Jagaran Nepal. Jagaran Nepal has now been fully teamed up with the professional and trained human resource working in the field of women in politics and women rights advocacy. The organizational capacity has been enhanced working in 11 districts and its respective 55 VDCs. Jagaran Nepal working partner organizations' self capacity in the field of women rights and women's inclusion has also been enhanced. The organization has made and adopted different policies and provisions related with gender and inclusion, good governance, human resource, financial, communication, monitoring and evaluation guidelines and 3-year (2011-13) strategic planning. Similarly, our resource centre is in the process of establishing first ever women resource centre for empowerment and policy advocacy and all women political leaders, civil society leaders, youth leaders and other have wholeheartedly accepted the resource centre as common place for policy advocacy and empowerment. These are some of the updates information regarding organization capacity. Working in the field of women rights and women's inclusion in politics, Jagaran Nepal has now been established as one of the leading organizing in Nepal on the strategic advocacy on women's inclusion in politics and women rights. Jagaran Nepal is now in the process of enhancing the capacity building of 1400 potential women leaders (already selected at the VDCs), strengthening the network members formed under this ongoing project and IPWA members (around 330), and sensitizing political parties in ensuring women's inclusion in different structures of parties and state mechanisms. Jagaran Nepal has already set an exemplary role in achieving its output and some outcome level results through the intervention on women's inclusion in politics and we are in the process of further capacitate the women political leaders of districts and potential women leaders at VDCs and are seeking the support and coordination of all stakeholders working for women's inclusion in social and political sectors, women's leadership and women's social and political empowerment.