JHAPA, March 13: The announcement of local elections nearly after two decades has elated almost everyone here but the excitement seen in the women of the rural areas is incomparable.
Many women accuse the male leaders of snatching their opportunities away; so, with local election around, they are all prepared to stand up for their rights. Hundreds of women who dared to come out of the four walls of their houses to serve the government were not allowed to be in major positions despite their capabilities. But the government has provided a hope to such women by announcing the local election for May 14.
It's been more than two decades that Laxmi Kafle of Bahundangi, Jhapa has been actively contributing to social and political affairs of her society. But she says that her journey was not easy as she had to go through a lot of bitter experiences. According to her, women are rarely allowed to take the lead and with many difficulties even if they manage to make it to higher positions, people try their best to pull their legs. “Though we have never considered ourselves weak men don't want to hand over some responsibilities saying we won't be able to do them,” said Kafle. “For hundreds of women like us, the local election can be a solution,” she added.
The new constitution has increased the representation of women, and that has mad many of them confident for fighting for their position. As per the rules of the local election, at least one woman candidate must stand for the position of Chairperson or Vice Chairperson. They have been more hopeful as 40% representation of women is compulsory in the local elections.
“Though we cannot completely rely on this management, it is sure that this time women will have an upper hand in the local elections,” said Narvada Baral, a woman rights activist in Jhapa. “The time has come for us to prove our powers,” Baral added.
Similarly, Bishnu Maya Upreti, a member of the Nepali Congress in Mechinagar told Republica that she has increased her meetings with the cadres of her party after the announcement of the local election. “I have devoted myself to the service of the people for such a long time. So, I have decided to fight for the position of Deputy Mayor in the local elections,” She said.
During the general elections of 1999, leaders of Nepali Congress (NC) in Jhapa were accused of plotting against their female candidates. At that time, there was a tough competition between KP Sharma Oli of UML and Giriraj Kumari Prasai of NC in Jhapa-2.
According to Jhapa NC members, when Prasai got elected as the representative, some male members conspired against her and publicized a wrong result. This controversy had created a great stir not only in Jhapa but in the whole country.
Despite the competition and biasness, many women hope to win the elections. “Women should not just be appointed as candidates but the people must vote them as well and make them victorious,” said Panita Dhakal, District co-coordinator of Naya shakti Nepal.
According to her, it is really important for women to secure their position through the local election to safeguard their rights and privileges which they have received after decades of struggle.