Meet the female ward chiefs of BardiyaWhen the female ward chiefs assumed office two years ago, there were plenty of naysayers. Now, the naysayers have become supporters.
These days, Radha Chaudhary, ward chief of Thakurbaba Ward No. 9, is busy— so busy that it’s hard to find her at her own home. She has meetings to attend, development projects to oversee and programmes to speak at.
Chaudhary is one of the only three female ward chiefs in the district, which has 74 wards divided among six municipalities and two rural municipalities.
Her focus is on attracting new development projects in her ward and on advocating women’s rights, she says.
“Women in my ward have big expectations from me,” she said. “I won’t let them down.”
In the immediate days of her assuming office, Chaudhary says she was apprehensive of her own abilities. But she says she has learnt a lot in the last two years.
“So far I have received largely positive feedback for my working style,” Chaudhary told the Post.
Prior to her election, Chaudhary used to work at various social organisations and also ran a cooperative. This, she says, has helped her hone her leadership skills.
“After I was elected, there were many who doubted my capabilities,” Chaudhary said. “But I was undeterred. Now, I think I have proven myself with what I have done so far. The people who doubted my abilities have now come to be my acolytes.”
Two other female ward heads in Bardiya—Sabitra Gautam, of Gulariya Ward No. 5, and Geeta Basnet, of Gulariya Ward No. 7—are taking big strides.
Gautam said issues related to women have hitherto not been highlighted because most government agencies have mostly been male-dominated.
“Even today, patriarchal mindset is ripe in the district,” said Gautam. “Most men refuse to believe that women can cause an impact in terms of development.”
But Gautam said she is determined to prove her naysayers wrong. “We work hard, and this is why people elected us,” said Gautam, a Congress leader.
On Monday, Geeta Basnet, another female ward chief, was surrounded by service seekers at her office. After she settled their concerns, she engaged in a brief conversation with the Post.
“It’s hard to be ward chief. For women, it’s harder,” Basnet said. “But I have been persisting against all the odds. I am committed to changing the conservative mindsets of men.”