Badi MP hopes to uplift her communityUma Devi Badi of Kailali district has become first ever member of parliament from her community after the Nepali Congress elected her to the Province 7 assembly under the proportional representation category.
Uma Devi Badi of Kailali district has become first ever member of parliament from her community after the Nepali Congress (NC) elected her to the Province 7 assembly under the proportional representation category.
The 53-year-old, who have spearheaded many rallies and demonstrations for the rights of the Badi community in the past, can now raise the concerns of her people in parliament. She will be on an equal footing with other MPs when she attends the first Provincial Assembly meeting that is taking place in Dhangadhi on Sunday.
“I am glad to have come this far from where I started. I represent the community that has faced many hardship, social discrimination and poverty since long. As an MP I now have the place and power to uplift the condition of my people,” she said.
Uma Devi, who is also the president of National Badi Rights Struggle Committee, had led the 2007 Badi protest in Kathmandu’s Singha Durbar that had subsequently paved the way for rehabilitation and social integration of Badi people.
Despite some improvements in the livelihoods of the community after the historic protest, Uma Devi says her people are still facing several socio-economic problems.
“These are issues that can only be addressed through policy measures. I understand the problems of my people and I plan to address them,” Uma Devi said.
Her main priority is protecting young Badi girls and women from resorting to prostitution—a profession traditionally associated with Badis—in order to survive.
Badi rights activists say many young girls and women from the community are still compelled to sell their bodies as a living due to widespread poverty and poor implementation of livelihood programmes introduced by the government.
“To stop Badi girls and women from falling through the cracks of the society it is crucial that they have education and skills to join job market or start some trade,” said Uma Devi.