Nepal, among the newest countries adopting parliamentary democracy, has laws requiring political parties to ensure a certain share of women among their candidates for local elections. However, most political parties have exploited a loophole in the country’s Local Level Election Act 2017 to undermine their representation
The share of women in Nepal’s local body elections scheduled for 13 May is all set to come down significantly this year in comparison to the last elections held in 2017 as political parties avoided nominating women for executive posts, utilizing a loophole in the country’s laws. Nominations of female candidates are less than the number of women who won the last elections for executive posts.
Nepal, among the newest countries adopting parliamentary democracy, has laws requiring political parties to ensure a certain share of women among their candidates for local elections. However, most political parties have exploited a loophole in the country’s Local Level Election Act 2017 to undermine their representation.
Out of 46,693 nominations for executive positions at the local level, only 4,851 are women. While women’s nomination makes up a total of 37.84 percent, only 8.4 percent of the candidates are for executive positions, according to the Election Commission. The rest—for female ward members and Dalit female ward members—is mandated by law, reported The Kathmandu Post.
“This severely undermines female politicians’ capacity, contribution, and eligibility,” said Binda Pandey, Standing Committee Member of the CPN-UML. “It shows that female politicians haven’t been accepted by political parties at all,” she added.
Uma Thapar Magar, another woman politician from the country’s main ruling party, Nepali Congress (NC), said, “The parties have manipulated the essence of the constitution to suit their own interests.”
Another significant decision that severely affected the share of women's nominations was the decision of the ruling coalition to fight local elections in an alliance.
Although the issue is widely acknowledged by women leaders across political parties, party affiliations often restrict them from open criticism. Many believe this is something that could only be addressed if there is a change in the patriarchal mentality of political leaders as well society.
Others, however, back bringing an amendment in the constitution to increase the share of women's representation.
“Until you have a law that mandates women’s candidacy, we will not be represented. It has been made very clear with alliance politics in elections,” Rekha Sharma, central leader, and whip of the CPN (Maoist Centre), part of the ruling alliance, was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post.