FWLD - Working for Non-Discrimination and Equality

Women in Power and Decision Making



– Advocate Deepesh Shrestha, FWLD

It’s been 25 years since the adaptation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA) in 1995, which reflects a new international commitment to the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere. In March 2020, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is going to undertake a review of progress made by the states in the implementation of the BPFA in 64th Session. The Beijing Review provides an important opportunity for women to examine their respective governments’ efforts and those of the other non- state actors in implementing the BPFA. It is also an opportunity for holding leaders and governments accountable for their commitments made for women’s empowerment, gender equality and the promotion of women’s human rights under the BPFA.

The National Network for Beijing Review Nepal (NNBN) which constitutes of over 70 leading NGOs working to protect and promote Women’s Human Rights in Nepal has submitted the NGOs (parallel) report of Nepal on the Beijing +25 reviews and Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) has been coordinating all the process as a Secretariat of the Network. The report consists the present status, progress achieved, persistent and emerging challenges along with conclusion and recommendation in 12 Beijing critical areas of concern.

The inclusion of women in the constitutional bodies on the basis of equality and principle of inclusion are provisioned in the Constitution which brings opportunity for women to work towards assisting the government in formulating local Acts, developing rules, policies and procedures as well as advocating ensuring these rights are exercised by the targeted group, especially women. The electoral quota of Nepal ensures 33% women’s representation in federal and provincial parliaments and 40% in local government. Similarly, Local Body Election (First Amendment) Act, 2017 has provisioned 50% women candidacy for various positions. Civil Service Act, 2049 introduced reservation policy where 45% of the total vacancies in government service were allocated to various marginalized and backward community including women.

The report highlights progress achieved by Nepal in relating to women in decision making. Major achievements includes, provision of representation of women in the self -governing local units in the Local Governance Operation Act, 2017 where women has ensured in 700 local units out of 753 as a deputy mayors. Similarly, six out of 10 lawmakers are women in parliamentary committees. As per the report, around 6567 Dalit females have won local level election. 20 % of the total post has been fulfilled by women in the Foreign Service of Nepal. Likewise, Ms. Sapana Pradhan Malla was elected in UN CAT Committee, Ms. Bandana Rana was elected in UN CEDAW Committee member and Ms. Melisa Uprety was elected in UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice. The report also emphasizes on 41 % of women’s representation in federal, provincial and national levels of government.

However, the report also shows some persistent and emerging challenges such as less appointment of women ministers in executive system, less appointment of women judges in Supreme Court, High Court and District Court being 14.28%, 9.45% and 2.17%. The report also highlights appointment of female ambassadors being only in 3 countries Oman, Japan and Israel and less involvement of women in the constitutional bodies. Despite the promise of state restructuring women continue to be denied political power at the local levels. Report also suggests women being less fortunate in respect to income, opportunity, access to the services and also positions in the public decision making. Therefore, the road to women’s substantive participation in leadership and decision making roles is littered with manifold challenges.

The report concludes by stating the persistent gender discrimination and social exclusion in Nepal including, gender stereotypes, stigmatizing values and attitudes at socio cultural and structural level that brings different challenges against women in acknowledging their critical roles in developing process. However, different international and national provisions along with continuous advocacy and persistence have enhanced participation and decision making of women in Nepal.

The report further recommends that the decision making role of women in regards to her bodily autonomy, her family, community and in different state machineries should be considered for the meaningful decision making process. The report also puts out recommendation such as ensuring constitutional rights to equality by ensuring women’s quality participation, representation and leadership in state machineries; providing opportunity to highly academic women; ensuring mandatory proportional representation of women in all constitutional bodies, federal and provincial commissions and cabinet ministries; ensuring the measures guaranteeing equal and inclusive participation of women in all levels of political, public and professional life and advocating and monitoring of the representation, active participation and following of the constitutional mandate regard to the decision making and leadership shall be done.