National Consultation on “State Re-Structuring and Women’s Participation in Local Election-issues and Challenges”

Jagaran Nepal, in its initiation conducted national dialogue/interaction on “State re-structuring and women’s participation in local election-issues and challenges” on 23rd March, 2017 in Alfa House, Baneshwor . The program was organized with an objective  to discuss on various issues and challenges related to women’s participation in local election, get expert’s opinion on constitutional and other policy provisions on women’s representation in state bodies, as well as to create a collective pressure to the political leaders to respect those policy provisions in upcoming local elections.

Jagaran Nepal along with Working Group (AWG) for Women’s Political Empowerment, Shanti Malika, Women Security Pressure Group (WSPG), Women in Policy Advocacy Alliance (WIPPA), Sankalpa, Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC), Men Engage Alliance (MEA), Sancharika Samuha, Working Women Journalists (WWJ) were the event organizers under the common banner “Sajha Abhiyan for Women’s Participation in local election” where Jagaran Nepal co-ordinated and facilated the event.

The program first highlighted the provisions regarding the candidacy of women in the coming local election. Altogether there are 6,680 wards in 744 local levels. Among them, there are 123 wards in 4 metropolitan city, 278 wards in  13 sub-metropolitan city, 2,849 wards in 241 municipality and 3,430 wards in 466 village bodies.  According to the legal provisions, 5 women can provide their candidacy from each ward of metropolitan city, sub-metropolitan city and municipality whereas 4 women can provide their candidacy from each ward of village bodies. This way, law provides for ensuring position of 3,239 women in the coming election.

Mr. Krishna Pd. Sapkota in his paper presentation on the topic “State Restructuring and local election” clarified various issues regarding the participation of women in village assembly, district assembly and district coordination committee for the election. He mentioned that it would be better if women provides their candidacy by being involved in the party politics. He recommended for proper dissemination of information regarding election along with measures to be taken for enhancing women leadership skills.  Similarly, advocate and women activist Ms. Indu Tuladhar in her paper presentation on “Women participation in local election” mentioned that though position of mayor and deputy mayor has been ensured in local level ( village body and municipality),  there’s no certainty that the position would be filled by women.  She informed about the positive steps taken for election like 50 % reduction on the security deposit regarding the candidacy is provided to women. Likewise, people convicted of witchcraft ,polygamy, domestic violence are not qualified to provide their candidacy which is praiseworthy.

The paper presentation was followed by suggestions and feedback from different experts. Parliamentarian member of CPN-UML, Mr. Rameshwor Fuyal mentioned that  Nepal has come forward as an exemplary nation  among South Asia, the reason being local level elections.  Parliamentarian member of Nepali Congress, Mr. Ramhari Khatiwada, held that Nepal has been an exemplary nation in the world as women are the  head of three major organs of the state.  He opined that the provisions to ensure women’s participation in the election must be utilized to the maximum level and  there needs to be proportional representation in the overall election process.

According to  Secretray of CPN-UML, Ms. Thammaya Thapa, since there are almost 56% women voters for the coming election, those women can play a decisive role to help women candidates win the election. Member of CPN-ML,Polybureau member, Ms. Janakkumari Chalise provided that though the election has paved the stepping stone for ensuring position of Dalit women in every ward , it’s an injustice to male members of Dalit community. She also mentioned that Sajha Abhiyan in coordination with  Sisters wing of political parties  must work together to ensure womens participation. Coordinator of All  Nepal Women’s Association  (Revolutionary) ,Ms. Amrita Thapa Magar held that women movement should be perpetuated till a just society is established.

During the program, the founding president of Jagaran Nepal and immediate past President of NGO Federation, Ms. Sharmila Karki  mentioned that since Nepali society still remains to be women friendly, if as many women candidates as possible could win the election this time, it may become women friendly from the local level in the coming days. Women activist Saloni Singh held opinion that the provisions made for women during the election are positive and that the information needs to be conveyed to women at the local level. Similarly, the Chairperson from Shantimalika, Ms. Durga Ghimire emphasised on establishing a support fund for women to enable them financially, giving ample information about arrangements for women’s participation via social networks and on operating women’s skill development programs.

Other participants of the program stressed on the importance of securing a position for women which only women may compete for and win, operating national level public campaigns as well as putting pressure on political parties as well as lobbying to elect as many women as possible. They also expressed their commitment from own place to make women win the campaign .

A total of around 70 participants participated in the program including representatives from different institutions, legislative members, women leaders from different political parties, their  sisters’ sings, lawyers, experts, journalists, etc. Similarly representatives from different NGO, networks working in different human/women rights sector, civil society groups, human/women rights activist and Medias had participated in the program. The program began with welcome remarks and objective sharing of Mr. Dipak Prasad Bashyal, National Project Coordinator chaired by Ms. Samjhana Pokharel, Chairperson of Jagaran Nepal.

Some Glimpses of the Program