A year on, provision of 33pc unimplementedAs the country celebrates the Constitution Day, the government itself has not been able to implement a constitutional provision that one-third representation of women in all forms of state mechanism.
As the country celebrates the Constitution Day, the government itself has not been able to implement a constitutional provision that one-third representation of women in all forms of state mechanism.
Article 38 of the constitution states that women shall have the right to proportional, inclusive participation as part of their fundamental rights.
Implementation of the provision in all sectors within a year of the promulgation might be difficult as in some sectors like the judiciary candidates simply cannot be hand picked. The expected numbers might only be met after implementing the provision after a few years. The government could have initiated that practice by appointing one-third female ministers in its Cabinet, but that has not happened in the two Cabinets formed after the promulgation of the constitution
Sita Devi Yadav, Minister for Peace and Reconstruction is the only female minister in the present Cabinet of Prime Minister Puspha Kamal Dahal. The first Cabinet formed after the promulgation of the constitution under KP Oli had only two female ministers—Rekha Sharma (General Administration) and Shanta Manavi (Livestock Development) and one state minister—Kunti Kumari Shahi (Federal Affairs and Local Development).
Similarly, the Sushil Koirala government, which had promulgated the constituion had three female ministers—Radha Gyawali (Energy), Chitra Lekha Yadav (Education) and Neelam KC (Women, Children and social Welfare).
Complaining that the provison of one-third representation has not been taken seriously, female leaders express fear that this ‘good’ affirmative provision could be relegated to a mere tokenism rather than a tool to boost women’s leadership quality. “The motto of this provision is to boost female participation, as women are not able to compete with male leaders in a patriarchal society. Sadly, it has not come into practice and this is an issue women’s movement will have to raise strongly,” said Sashi Shrestha, past president of the Inter-Party Women Alliance. Introduction of the one-third representation was hailed as one of the most progressive systems for promoting female participation.
A historic 33 percent representation of women in the last CA was possible due to proportional representation (PR) system. Of the total 197 female CA members, only 30 were directly elected, 161 were appointed under the PR system and six nominated by the Cabinet.
As the parties flouted the rules, the representation of women in the second CA decreased by 3 percent.
The Interim Constitution of 2007 also stated under the provision of fundamental rights that women as well as Dalits, indigenous peoples, Madhesi communities and the oppressed classes shall have the right to take part in state structures on the basis of proportional inclusion.
Women leaders have been calling for a certain percentage of constituents to be set aside for women in the first-past-the-post election system to ensure 33 percent seats.
“Or else we will never reach the targeted number as has been shown by recent poll results,” Shrestha said, referring to the recent results which suggest that fewer women are winning elections in Nepal. In the first Constituent Assembly election in 2008, women had won 30 seats but the number dropped to 10 seats in the second CA election in 2013.