Women's Rights: Continuing Fight

At a time when Nepalese women are demanding equal political rights, participants of a one-day seminar stressed the need for the present electoral laws to pave the way to increase their representation

March 9, 2014, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -17 Mar. 07- 2014 (Falgun 23, 2070)

Although several efforts have been made to increase the women's representation in the political arena, civil service and security sector, it remains one of the poorest. The representation of women in political sector is yet to improve.

At a seminar organized by Embassy of Finland, International IDEA, Demo Finland and UN Women, participants of a one day seminar on Electoral System and Women's Representation in Nepal: Need for Reform? expressed dissatisfaction with the present electoral system.

"It is very unfortunate to say that women's representation in the political process is still negligible. Although leaders of political parties expressed their commitment that women will be given 33 percent seats in all sectors, nobody has shown any initiative to implement the commitment," said CPN-UML leader and CA member Asta Laxmi Shakya. "There is less women representation in CA this time than in the past because only a few women won the election from first past the post system."

As the seminar was organised as part of celebrating the Finnish Women's journey to equal rights and status, Nepalese CA members and women representing various walks of life got the opportunity to learn from the women's struggles in Finland. Along with the seminar, an exhibition will be inaugurated on 11th March to celebrate the Finnish Women's Journey to equal rights and status.

Although Nepal has already made a long march in the last few years, it is yet to have an electoral system like in Finland to guarantee women's representation.  Thus, one of the aims of the seminar is to share comparative knowledge on ensuring women's representation in Finland and Nepal. The participants, hence, discussed women's participation in politics.

"I would like to request all women CA members to amend the present electoral act so that their representation in CA and political process increases," said Neel Kantha Uprety, chief election commissioner.  "The women's representation in the CA is possible because of the present act."

Thanks to the current act, the representation of women and other marginalized groups increased in PR. However, only 10 women won the elections in the first-past-the-post system.

Finland is using a full list of proportional representation system but without quotas. The system allows the voter to directly vote for a particular candidate from a particular party list," said Heidi Hautala, Finnish politician. "Our system helps improve women's participation."

As Nepal is celebrating the International Women's Day on March 8, the discussion program organized in the capital city will be helpful to understand the system introduced in Finland and make Nepalese political system more inclusive as well.

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