By Sanchita Ghimire
Kathmandu, April 26 (RSS): The number of women candidates will be less in the upcoming local level election in the absence of the provision requiring that either the chief or the deputy chief of the local level should be a woman.
Especially in the last local level elections held in 2017, nearly 98 per cent of women were elected either to the post of deputy mayor of the metropolises, sub-metropolises and municipalities and the deputy chief of the rural municipalities. But in the upcoming election, the number of elected women to the local levels is likely to decrease as this provision seems not to have come into play this time.
This probability is further high as the candidates to the post of chief and deputy chief of most of the local levels are from different parties due to the electoral coalition and seat adjustment among the parties this time. As a result of this, candidates to both the posts in a majority of the local levels are male.
Although there is the provision that the candidates of the same party vying for the post of chief and deputy chief of the local body should belong to a different gender, it is not compulsory in case the candidates are from different parties. It is seen that women have got fewer opportunities to stand as candidates in posts other than the post of ward member which has been specified by the Constitution.
It is seen that the mainstream national political parties have provided fewer opportunities to women in the post of ward chair.
However, the number of women aspiring to file their candidacy has significantly increased in all the parties this time. The parties had recommended a large number of women to file candidacy for the post of ward chair to the mayor/deputy mayor of metropolises, sub-metropolises and municipalities and chair/deputy chair of rural municipalities. Most of the women who were elected to the post of deputy chair in the last election had staked their claim to the post of chair this time. Among them, only a few got the opportunity.
Women leaders of the major parties opined that a situation has come in which women’s participation is going to decrease at the local level this time compared to the last election due to the provision requiring parties to field a woman candidate for either of the post of chief or deputy chief of the local body not coming into play this time.
Women organizations affiliated with the political parties had lobbied in their parties for fielding as many women candidacies but in vain.
CPN (UML) central member Nirudevi Pal said although the women’s candidacies overall seem to have decreased, it has increased somewhat in her party. Compared to the last local election, the candidacy of women for the post of chief of the local body has increased in UML this time, she said. “Obviously, our party has fielded women candidates to the post of deputy chiefs in local bodies where males have been fielded to vie for the post of chiefs. There are women candidates vying for the post of the chair at several local level wards,” Pal said.
The election of the local levels that remained without people’s representatives for long was held in 2017 after the implementation of the new constitution. The self-confidence of women elected in the previous local-level elections was found to increase and they have now shown interest to compete in the higher post as compared to previous.
Of the women elected to the post of deputy mayor in the previous local-level elections, most of them had shown their interest to compete in the mayoral post and some of them also got this opportunity, shared Pal.
With the increasing participation of women, women’s self-confidence is also found increasing, she added.
Earlier, women leaders in the Nepali Congress had raised voices, saying that there should not be candidacy of men in both the mayor and deputy mayor posts after NC decided to go for an election making an alliance.
Whip of the NC Parliamentary Party, Pushpa Bhusal, opined that although they had raised their voices, the number of women candidates in the post of mayor and deputy-mayor is less.
She added there would be less number of women candidates in the election due to alliance unless there is a mandatory provision in the law.
Leader Bhusal said, “The number of aspirant women to compete in this election is remarkable and it will further increase in coming days”.
Out of the women recommended for the election, the least number of women have got the opportunity to fight in the election.
Chairperson of All Nepal Women’s Association (Revolutionary), Amrita Thapa, shared that the CPN (Maoist Centre) has got the post of deputy-mayor in many places and of them, all the candidates are men.
Although 40 per cent of women were elected in the previous election, overall participation of women has decreased in the election as less number of women are competing in the post of deputy-mayor this time.
Leader Thapa said the party repeated the male face that won the last election being based on the agreement among the parties in the electoral alliance to allocate the local level to that party winning the previous elections.
The previous election was significant in view of the women’s participation, she said, underlining the need of working to ensure women’s leadership throughout the election. “But the existing scenario shows it is hard to achieve this.”
In view of CPN (Unified Socialist) leader Dilu Pant, parties are reluctant to accept the women’s candidacy for the post of mayor as they doubt women’s victory in the election.
The alliance partners focused on seeking a ‘probable winning candidate’ for the election and women’s participation is largely missing, according to her. “Political parties still doubt women’s competency.”
Women are deprived of the opportunity to contend in the election due to social construction. Women’s unofficial political meetings with men are not encouraged by the society and it is one of the reasons depriving them of an opportunity to lobby for the tickets.
She complained that those women who are already on the upper political committee don’t advocate and encourage women’s involvement in the electoral race.
Women are hardly the priorities of political committees while recommending names for aspiring candidates. “The significant achievements in terms of women’s leadership can’t be expected from this election.”
The previous elections ensured 41 per cent of women’s participation among the elected people’s representatives in 753 local governments. Women numbered 718 among 1,506 elected mayors, deputy mayors, chairpersons and vice-chairpersons and this makes up 47.68 per cent of the total number of office-bearers.
The Constitution requires the recommendation of at least one woman among the recommendations for key office-bearer posts.