By Er. Ravi Khanal
The experience of Nepali women being engaged in governance-work at local government- municipalities and rural municipalities- is impressive. It has given men particularly leaders, policy makers and other decision-makers practical proof to be convinced about women’s ability to perform in governance-role. Women have, through the five-year-engagement after 2017 elections, learnt skills of handling governing-issues besides developing self-confidence and inspiring generations –future and old.
As 14, 352 women representatives (41 % of total 35,041 local representatives) in local bodies are about to complete their five-year- tenure in May, a great historic landmark for highlighting gender equality has been established in the country. The same emerges as a real accomplishment when viewed in the context of women in local bodies (1 % in 1991 and 21 % in 1994).
One woman representative was recently quoted by a daily newspaper opining that it could prove highly effective in motivating women to take other leadership roles in state-mechanism-works. “Political leaders tuned to patriarchal views and approaches would, through the example, find themselves pressed to open space for more women in their organizations.”
Since the local bodies -753 in number – constitute the base of governance in Nepal their focus on governance, gender equality and public service delivery plays a great role in making policies and activities related to development works, economy and other nation-building tasks equally meaningful to men and women in Nepali society. The same could be instrumental in ensuring equity and efficiency in the use of resources –financial, technical and human.
If women leaders at the local bodies could be offered appropriate transfer of knowledge and skill orientation on governance-matters particularly policy formulation cum implementation, decision making and monitoring, their performance would improve in a significant manner, observed a planner in Kathmandu the other day.
The lessons from the past five years on women at governance-desk could be a helpful guide for future development of local government activities and policies in the country. Researchers, media and civil society should develop such lessons into practical guidelines for directing the future growth of local bodies and encouraging citizenship-engagement in development and governance matters in cities and villages.
As political parties plan to offer candidature for the May 13, 2022 local polls, they should, among other things, stress “building on and continuing through what has been achieved by women representatives in the past.” They should not allow the spirit of gender equality established in 2017-2022 fade away in any way. Similarly as people approach the voting day they should bear in mind the accomplishments made by women representatives in local bodies seriously and offer them fair support through the angle of gender equality.