Sancharika Samuha (SAS) Nepal (a forum of women journalists and communicators) and Kathmandu, Metropolitan City (KMC) jointly organized an interaction on "Local Election and Women Representation" on 3rd September 2014 in Kathmandu.
Ms Yashoda Adhikari, Board Member, emceed the interaction program, Ms Suchitra Shrestha, Vice President, welcomed the guests and participants and Ms Nirmala Sharma, President of SAS facilitated and highlighted on the objectives of the interaction.
Mr Durga Khanal, Senior Reporter of Kantipur Daily, presented a paper on "Local Election and Women Representation" and discussed about the conditions of local bodies, legal procedure for local election, Local Self-governance Act, 2055 BS, manifestos of major political parties, logic behind 50 percent women representation in local bodies, etc. He further said that local election and representation of 50 percent women should be guaranteed by the law.
Similarly, Ms Janak Kumari Chalise, leader of the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-ML) also presented a paper on "Issues of Proportional Representation of Women in Local Election." She explained on the necessity of women representation in decision-making level and the need for amendment to Local-Self-governance Act, 2055 BS.
Ms Meena Pandey, President of Inter Party Women Network (IPWN) said that 50 percent representation of women in local election had became the major agenda of the Nepali Congress Party, which she belongs to. She said that an alliance of women leaders and activists had visited almost all the 75 districts, and held discussion on the issue. She added that that they would continue to propagate the need for equal participation of women and men in the decision-making processes. She also focused her speech on the necessity of national pressure to ensure 50 percent representation of women in the local bodies.
Likewise, Mr Hari Kumar Shrestha, Chief of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Area Conservation Program office (HDACPO) blamed the political parties for not holding local election. He emphasized on the need for ensuring 50 percent women representation through the new constitution. He said, "We are not sure about the date for local elections, but before that the political parties should ensure 50 percent representation of women."
Mr Mahesh Basnet, a youth Leader of the CPN-UML,sharing his experience said that if women were elected to the local bodies, there would be lesser corruption and better, governance. "Our party always stands for 50 percent women representation," said Basnet. He further said that the role that women play in local bodies could help enhance their capacity.
Mr Ganesh Shah, former Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, said that there should be qualitative representation of women not only quantitative. He also stressed that digital empowerment of women was necessary at present.
Similarly, Ms Shahi Adhikari, President of Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre (LACC), said that 50 percent representation of women should be legally ensured. She also called for an electoral provision of setting aside separate seats for women so that there could be fair representation of women.
Ms Kalpana Dhamala, leader of the UCPN-Maoist, said while women leaders were advocating for strong representation of women in their respective parties, every political party were bound by their own set of rules. She also said that women leaders should made this issue main agenda from which they can achieve positive result. She also said that women leaders had been raising that issue regularly even if their party did not support them.
Ms Shanti Adhikari, a leader of the CPN-UML Leader said the issues of women were given less priority due to the lesser representation of women at decision-making level. She also said that 50 percent representation of women in local election would not be ensured in the absence of strong laws. She reiterated that the agenda of women should not be only the agenda of women alone, it should be given priority by men as well.
Likewise, Ms Radha Gyawali, Minister for Energy, said that social inclusion and meaningful participation of women could be achieved only when there was a strong law to ensure equal participation of women in the decision-making process. Minister Gyawali said that it was a painful situation for not having local election since 14 years. The absence of elected local bodies has resulted in slow development, rising cases of violence against women and growing corruption. She added that there was a need for yet another revolution in order to address the issues of women. She said that local election should be inclusive, proportional, and equally participatory for women.
Participants in the program also urged that government should ensure 50 percent representation of women in the local election. They also said that from grassroots level women should be empowered so that they could able to be at decision-making level.
The interaction was covered by different media like daily papers, FM stations and television channels and online. Dailies which covered the news and photo of the event are: The Rising Nepal, Gorkhapatra, Republica, Commander Post, Himalaya Times, The Kathmandu Post and Annapurna Post.
There were altogether 63 participants from different media houses, organizations and political parties in the interaction program.
In order to complement its initiatives to mainstream women's issues in the media and to initiate fresh discourse on the contemporary issues affecting the lives of women in general and women journalists in particular, SAS organizes interactions frequently. Over the years, SAS has earned a reputation of raising the economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights violation issues and holding interactions among journalists, women's rights activists, government officials, civil society leaders, opinion formers and other stakeholders. It has been interacting with the wider stakeholders on issues like women's representation in the Constituent Assembly (CA), political participation in all spheres of social life and their faire representation in all levels of political parties and on issues like domestic violence, witch accusation, dowry-related violence and other violence against women. During the run-up to elections to the CA, SAS organized many interactions among the stakeholders on its own and in partnership with other like-minded organizations, for instance.
With an objective of informing, educating, and calling for an action on issues of press freedom, women's equal participation in state affairs, to end violence against women, to sensitize the general public on respecting the rights of people, to create public awareness gender equality and on other contemporary issues, SAS produces and broadcasts various jingles and public service announcements (PSAs) on different radio and television stations. While producing such jingles and PSAs, SAS pays attention to the target audience and broadcasts them in major languages of Nepal including Nepali. SAS often produces and broadcasts such informative audio-visuals in collaboration with other like-minded organizations, coalitions and social movements.
Training & Workshop
SAS has been carrying out various programs with an overarching goal of mainstreaming women's issues in the media and supportive activities with an objective of enhancing the capacity of women journalists in order to increase their participation in journalism and retain them in the profession. Right from its inception in 1996, SAS has been organizing various capacity-building programs for women journalists. Among them, Basic Journalism, Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting training and workshops are the major and regular activities of the organization. The journalists thus trained are given opportunity to contribute articles to its Feature Service in Nepali and English, SAS Radio and TV programs and to Sancharika Online.
The journalists trained by SAS have been producing feature stories, investigative reportage and other hard news and contributing to SAS-run media apart from other mainstream media both electronic and print they are affiliated with.
Sancharika Samuha, being a pioneer forum of women journalists and communicators, works to safeguard the rights of female journalists, journalists in particular and women in general. In order to ward off possible violation of rights and to draw the attention of the state to provide justice to victims in the aftermath of rights violation plus to call for an action regarding inclusion, equality and meaningful participation of women in different fields of social life, SAS issues press releases.
It also issues press releases to condemn attack on press freedom and safety of journalists besides informing concerned state and non-state actors on its activities targeted to the betterment of the promotion and protection of the rights of women journalists in particular and media people in general. The organization also issues press release on issues of national importance and women's equal participation in decision-making bodies of the state.
SAS produces documentaries to capture the reality of the lives of people mostly women whose basic rights are violated. It focuses on denial of the rights of women to acquire citizenship through matriarchy, domestic violence, gender-based violence, violence caused by harmful traditional practices such as dowry, deprivation of girl children from basic education, discrimination against girls and women in different fields of their social life. The organization produces and airs such documentaries with an objective of informing the general public on certain issues of rights violation and drawing the attention of the state to protect and promote their rights, thereby supporting to establish a gender-equal society. SAS has produced many documentaries on violence against women and has aired them through different television channels of Nepal.
SAS carries out studies on different issues mainly focusing on women journalists, press freedom, media monitoring, status of women journalists, violence against women, domestic violence, structural violence and gender discrimination. Traditional and cultural practices harmful to women are also another area of its advocacy. SAS advocates with and through the media primarily on the basis of the findings of the reports in order to change state policies and programs in favour of women.
The organization also prepares reports of collective campaigns carried out in different times depending on the urgency of issues and events. Likewise, SAS also prepares reports on media monitoring and documents and shares the findings of such studies. Reports prepared and shared by SAS have become very useful for policy-makers, implementers, students and scholars besides women's rights activists and apologists.
Since 4 November 2013, SAS has been producing television programme titled "Samakon" on Kantipur Television. The objective of the programme is to dig out the issues of gender-based violence, bring them to the notice of duty bearers, support survivors of such violence by providing them an opportunity to share the injustice, and create awareness among people in order to create a gender-friendly society.