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.