Least female representation in election FPTP candidates’ list riles women leaders

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KATHMANDU — Sunday marked the peaceful registration of nominations for the nearing first-round elections to the House of Representatives and the State Assemblies ( towards the first-past-the-post system), but this has failed to enthuse women leaders advocating for women’s meaningful participation in every state apparatus.

The least representation of women in the registration of candidacies has riled the advocates for women’s 33 percent participation at the decision-making level.

The women concerned evaluate the lack of encouraging number of women’s participation in the registration of candidacies as an outcome of mainly deeply rooted patriarchy that has been dominating the Nepali society since centuries.

Political parties did not feel it necessary to provide a path for women towards reaching the leadership level mainly due to their patriarchal mindset, as they complained, pointing out the need of guaranteeing the 33 per cent women participation in law itself.

Though participation of women in politics is increasing gradually, women aspiring to directly contest in the elections were discouraged by the political leadership-level.

There is the constitutional provision for ensuring the 33 per cent women’s participation in the every state organ and in case of this not becoming possible in the House of Representatives and State Assemblies from the FPTP system, the minimum percentage is compensated from the PR system.

The democratic alliance led by the Nepali Congress have guaranteed the candidacies of four women for the first phase of twin elections taking place in November 26 while six are from the leftist alliance for 37 seats in the House of Representatives and 74 for the State Assemblies of 32 districts.

Champadevi Khadka (from Baglung-1) and Saraswoti Bajimaya (Khotang) have got tickets from the Nepali Congress to contest in the House of Representatives election towards the FPTP system.

Likewise, leader Kamala Roka has filed nomination from Rukum on behalf of the leftist alliance for the House of Representatives election.

The irony is that the CPN (UML) felt no need to give any chance to woman candidate (s) to try their fate in the House of Representatives election.

In the State Assemblies election, candidacies of Leeladevi Bokhim (Taplejung- State Assembly A), and Chandra Devi Joshi (Bajhang A) have been registered on behalf of the NC.

Similarly, the EC has registered the candidacies of Kamala Naharki (Gorkha A), Devaki Malla (Bajhang B) and Radhika Tamang (Nuwakot A) from the CPN (Maoist Centre) in the leftist alliance while Naradevi Pun (Myagdi B), and Khanda Lama Gurung (Manang Kha) have filed their nominations from the CPN (UML).

When asked about the reason for the women’s meagre candidature, Uma Regmi, chairperson of the Nepal Women Association which is close to the Nepali Congress, said, “We had urged the party in writing and verbally to give candidacies increasing the number of women candidates but that did not happen in this phase. We have received assurances that the number of women candidacies would be increased in the second phase elections.”

She said women are sidelined while selecting the candidates at the district level itself saying they cannot win the election and there was also the tendency among some women that they want to secure their seat from the proportional representation category.

UML central committee member Brinda Pandey however complained that the leaders in the decision-making positions denied tickets to even those women who were passionate about contesting the election.

“It is the traditional mindset to think that women cannot win the election. Now it’s about time to have the legal provision of 33 per cent reservation for women in the first-past-the-post election system. Moreover, women do not prefer to jostle for getting tickets from their parties like men,” she added.

Maoist Centre leader Rekha Sharma said that the percentage of women’s candidacy under the first-past-the-post system is discouraging, reiterating on having legal provision for 33 per cent women participation in the overall candidacies by any party in the first-past-the-post election system.

She stressed on the need of having mandatory provision by law, saying the women candidacy is not likely to increase if there is no mandatory law for this and if it is left to be decided through the discretion of the leaders alone. RSS