Kathmandu: After the constitution made it mandatory for the political parties to have at least 33 percent women in their respective central committees, the political parties in Nepal have finally given the required space for women representation.
Nevertheless, the question still remains, is this enough for the empowerment of women in politics?
Many women in politics think otherwise. Although this mandate has given women a space for their talent and leadership, it is yet not enough to call women fully empowered in Nepali politics, leaders from various parties told Nepal Live Today. The progress is still at the pace of a snail.
Bimala BK, a CPN-UML leader, believes that women should not just get their place for representation only because of a mandate but also because of their talent and their knack for leadership. “Although it is a good improvement in terms of representation, we are still very much dependent on the mandate,” she added.
Her statement is agreed upon by many other women politicians in Nepal. Laxmi Pariyar from Nepali Congress says, “Women have to be very much dependent on other politicians to get their rightful place within the committee. And it is quite evident from history that women are not given the same space if it is not declared mandatory.”
Even now, among the political parties, women representation is disappointingly low in places where it is not declared mandatory. For instance, among the 19 office bearers in the CPN-UML, only 2 of them are women. It amounts to 10.5 percent in women representation.
This data is a vivid example of how women’s representation is very much dependent on other politicians and voters.
Amrita Thapa Magar, from the CPN (Maoist Center), said, “It almost seems like women will not get a proper platform of representation unless it is made mandatory.”
“Even when there are women candidates in the election, people are reluctant towards voting them which in turn hampers women’s representation,” said Pariyar.
One of the reasons behind this reluctance is the patriarchal and stereotypical concept of people regarding women and gender roles in society. “Society has yet not been able to view women as politicians,” said Pariyar.
This concept not only affects the perception of people but also makes it difficult to come out of these stereotypes and become a leader.
“Women have to be very much dependent on other politicians to get their rightful place within the committee.”
Samiksha Bastola, from Bibeksheel Sajha Party, said that women have many responsibilities, both personal and professional, which is seen as a weakness by many. That being said, people are more eager to have a male representative in the political party.
“This responsibility of a woman should be considered more of a strength than weakness,” added Bastola. She also said that it is important for male politicians to be more cooperative than competitive towards women politicians.
“I think if the male colleagues and family are more supportive and cooperative towards women’s work, it will be much easier for women to reach the position of leadership, within every sector including politics,” said Bastola.
Talking about leadership, it is evident that women are not given the position willingly unless it is mandatory. Bastola, Pariyar, and BK all agree that women should be given the positions not only when mandated, but on the basis of their talent and leadership quality.
Although the constitutional mandate has contributed to some improvement in women’s representation, it is still not enough to consider women fully empowered. For that to happen, it is necessary to change the perception of the society so that even the voters are not reluctant towards voting for a woman leader. This might ensure women their space for representation, regardless of the mandate.