Equal opportunity for all citizens is an integral component of democratic society and essential for fair and just democratization. ‘Inclusion’ and/or ‘equal participation’ of every citizen has been taken as synonymous for any just and democratic society/country. Realizing this fact, Ms. Sharmila Karki along with her team (Ms. Meena Bista, Mr. Krishna Thapa, Ms. Shova Gautam, Mr. Himmat Singh Lekali, Ms. Sunita Chhatkuli, Ms. Jyoti Paudel) ) founded ‘JAGARAN NEPAL’ aiming at advocating for women’s participation in politics in 2002 AD (2058 BS). ‘WOMEN IN POLITICS’- has been taken as the main agenda of the organization and every activity of the organization has been revolved around on this agenda.
Though there were several motivational factors, very nominal presence and participation of Nepalese women in politics turned to be a major stimulation for Ms. Karki and her team to initiate this movement. After the restoration of democracy in 1989 AD (2046 BS), women have slowly and gradually been started to be organized and raised their voices. However, structural and systematic factors hinder largely to the women to take part in politics and influence governing process. Widely prevailed patriarchy, personal interest & capacity of women and massive anomalies in political system and process have hurdled women’s representation in politics and governing process.
When the organization was founded, people hardly talked about women’s representation in politics. With the initiation of Ms. Karki and her team, Jagaran Nepal became one of the first organizations to talk and raise the issue of women in politics. It has faced lots of challenges in the initial phase as the general public and even the autocratic political leadership was not ready to hear this agenda. With constant advocacy and women’s empowerment, this agenda has slowly been realized and adopted by the political parties. Similarly, other organization also has adopted this agenda and started to work.
With the promulgation of federal constitution in 2015, 33% in federal and province and 40% in local parliament has been guaranteed. Constitution has provisioned equality before the law among all citizens, right of women to participate proportionately in all state bodies as fundamental rights. The constitution also provisioned to have at least one women (or people from different ethnicity) on the position of President or Vice President, to have one women either as Chair or Vice Chair in parliament in both Upper and Lower houses. Even the representation of women in political parties has been increased from 5% to 22% aggregate. This is indeed a great achievement for Nepalese women’s rights movement though equal representation has still not been ensured. Small portion of credit could be claimed by Jagaran Nepal and other women rights organization for this big achievement as a result of constant advocacy and collective pressure nationwide.
Despite of such a huge step in women’s rights movement, it needs further action towards achieving the gender equality in every structure of the state. And Jagaran Nepal, as always, is continuing its work towards it.