Her dream was to become a lieutenant, she is a lawmaker

As a lawmaker in Bagmati province, Laxmi Ghimire, a woman with disability, vows to make education, health and public transport disability-friendly.

Kalpana Ghimire

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Born to a family of a Nepal Army soldier she wanted to become an army officer. This was her dream and ambition and she prepared herself accordingly. But fate, it seems, had something else up its sleeve for her.

In 2009, Laxmi Ghimire, 28, born in Ramechhap, was studying in grade XI. In 2009, she fell off the cliff while cutting grass and suffered spinal cord injury. This was a devastating moment for her. The injury not only made her rely on a wheelchair for the rest of her life but also shattered her dream of becoming a second lieutenant in Nepal Army.  Her plan was to complete the 12th grade and sit for examinations to become an army officer. But this was not meant to be.

“I was preparing to compete for this post but the accident changed the course of my life,” she said.

Following this event, she suffered depression for months. Worried for her future, her father brought her to Kathmandu and encouraged her to pursue higher education. “I wanted to study computer science but the college did not have a disability-friendly structure to access the computer lab and so I chose to study management,” she said.

Ghimire then enrolled in Padma Kanya Campus in Kathmandu with political science as a major subject.  She is now pursuing a master’s degree in the same college.

Laxmi Ghimire is now a lawmaker in the Bagmati Province assembly from Proportional Representation (PR) category representing Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). She is the only differently-able lawmaker in the province. This is by virtue of the constitutional provision that people with disability should be represented in the law-making body.

“Big parties are treating people with disabilities as a vote bank,” she said.

The road to politics for her, however, was not paved in a day. It was 2017. As Ghimire was doing her bachelor’s degree, she craved to become self-dependent and started to search for a job.  Bibeksheel Party came into being. She got the job as a receptionist at the office.  This was the first step towards her entry in politics.

She got involved in youth organization of Bibeksheel Party and was later nominated as the central member in the youth organization of the party after Bibeksheel and Sajha merged to become Bibeksheel Sajha Party. “It was when I was with Bibeksheel Sajha that I felt I had to do something for the country,” said Ghimire. “So that people with disabilities do not have to struggle like I had to.” She says that the state has not done enough for the people with disabilities. “The state has neglected us. We need to raise our voices against this. But to raise the campaign nationally one has to be in politics. I am in politics now to raise the voice of the people with disabilities.”

Ghimire has an impressive track record in sports as well. She worked as the national captain of Wheelchair Basketball. She represented Nepal in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  “The state has not provided enough facilities to the sportspersons in the first place. Sportspersons with disability remain even more neglected,” she said.

Ghimire joined the Rastriya Prajatantra Party in September this year. Ghimire now represents RPP in Bagmati Province assembly and she is determined to advocate for the cause of people with disability. “I will try to ensure that the parliament building is disability-friendly.” She will also advocate against the federal set up, the main agenda of her party. “We do not need provincial structure in Nepal. The expenses that go for sustaining provinces can be better used for development of the country,” she said.

As a person with disability herself, Ghimire has experienced how people with disability have to struggle in Nepal.  She is of the view that the state should prioritize quality health services for the people with disability.  She has also seen that educational institutions are not disability-friendly in Nepal. “First, there is no quality education in government colleges and universities. Then the infrastructures are not disability-friendly. I could not pursue the education of my choice due to lack of disability-friendly infrastructure,” she said.

She says that she will work to make education, health and public transport disability-friendly. “This is a major problem in Nepal,” she said.