Advocacy group calls for meaningful representation of Dalits in local governanceSamata Foundation says existing representation is encouraging but not in proportion with the population.
As the parties are busy selecting their candidates for the May 13 local elections, the Samata Foundation has called for ensuring a meaningful representation of the Dalit community in local governance as per the principle of proportional inclusion.
In a statement on Thursday, the Foundation, a Dalit rights advocacy group, made the request to the country’s political parties.
Articles 24 and 40 of the Constitution of Nepal guarantee the right against untouchability and discrimination; and Dalit rights. The constitution also envisions special provisions for empowerment, representation and participation of Dalits in the public service sector, reads the statement.
Dalit community makes 13.8 percent of Nepal’s total population but their presence in the public service sector is below par, the group said.
The 2017 local elections, the first since the country adopted federalism, brought in an encouraging number of Dalit faces in local governance, but their meaningful participation has yet to be ensured, and this is possible only through the willpower of political parties, the Foundation stated.
The advocacy group has requested the parties to create an atmosphere for Dalit representatives elected through the past elections to work in higher positions based on their performance and experience.
Amid media reports that some Dalit representatives at the local level have been subjected to caste-based discriminations by their own colleagues and party workers, the Foundation has urged the political forces to take action against those responsible. It has also appealed to the parties to move beyond tokenism and create an atmosphere for Dalits to serve in more local government positions besides those mandated by the law.