Nepali Congress Party, the largest party in Nepal’s Parliament, has initiated a campaign for endorsing women friendly Constitution during the upcoming 13th General Convention of the Party to be held in March 2016. DIPD has started to support this initiative in collaboration with UN Women.
By DIPD Team in Nepal
The Women Cell of the Party has been leading the campaign for gender equality inside the party since November last year, aiming to influence the proceedings during the upcoming General Convention – the supreme decisive body of the Party. A small group of women leaders as well as a few progressive male leaders formulated strategies to pass the necessary amendments in the party’s Constitution to make the party’s Constitution gender equal during the Party’s General Convention.
As the Convention neared this year, the Nepali Congress party requested DIPD to provide technical support relating to the constitutional amendments. Immediately, DIPD supported in conducting gender audit of the Party’s Constitution. The findings of the gender audit were shared with the members of the Women Cell which conducted further activities on this agenda.
High-Level Workshop in Kathmandu
On 27 November 2015, the Women Cell of the Party conducted a meeting to share the findings of the gender audit of the party’s Constitution as well as to discuss the way forward to ensure the success of the overall campaign. The Deputy Head of UNWomen shared international experiences on the campaigns for gender equality in political processes. DIPD Representative highlighted the necessity of gender equal party structures for overall empowerment of women.
As the way forward, the participants of the meeting agreed to conduct meetings at local level to share the gender audit report as well as to collect feedback for the reforms on the party’s Constitution from local level.
Local Level Meetings
As agreed in the central level consultation, the Nepali Congress party conducted meetings in the five regions covering most of Nepal’s districts. These interactions were also used to sensitize local level members on gender issues as well as on the importance of gender equal party structures.
Over 400 Nepali Congress grass roots members (ward, village/municipality, districts) attending these meetings have been sensitized on gender issues. Moreover, grass roots members of the Nepali Congress also got an opportunity to present their views on the gender audit report as well as on the necessary constitutional reforms inside the party.
This campaign has so far been successful in establishing women’s issue as one of the central issues for the National Convention as well as in strengthening voices for reforms to ensure more gender friendly party structures.
The campaigners have submitted a memorandum comprising of recommendations from central and regional interactions to the Constitution Amendment Committee of the Party. Soon, the Committee will forward these demands for necessary reforms to the Central Committee and General Convention of the Party for further discussion and its final endorsement.
The Women Cell has already endorsed a plan for second round of activities at local level under its strategy to lobby National Convention representatives to ensure passing of the forwarded recommendations during the Convention.
The main recommendations that came out of central and regional interactions are as follows:
- Revise the Constitution of the Party to ensure representation rights of women including other marginalized social groups at least in line with the new Constitution of Nepal.
- Introduce a special provision for women to get active membership at grass roots by reducing the number of years of involvement in the party as the general member vis-à-vis men.
- State disciplinary provisions (code of conduct) for the Party leaders and members to ensure women friendly environment in the Party structures and functioning.
- Ensure a provision that gives women a share of their demand in budget formulation and operation following the GESI principles.
- Ensure that the Party implements adequate capacity building initiatives for empowering women at local level, in order to increase their entrance in the Party politics through grass roots.
- Ensure at least 33% representation of women in all structures of the Party at village, constituency area, district, region and national level through explicit provision in the Constitution. However, mechanisms to ensure equal participation of women (50:50 shares) at the entry level at grass roots would promote women in the party to get 33% share.
- Ensure provision of women’s proportional participation in the decision-making positions of the party structures.
- Include provisions that ensure women’s share in the roles, duties and functions based in the principles of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion.
- Ensure by provision that at least 33% women are nominated or elected in the state positions including in the Parliament.
- Ensure that at least 33% women be nominated or elected in the chief positions of the state, such as, President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Mention provision that explicitly favors the rights to proportionately inclusive representation (by population) for different social groups within women, recognizing the caste/ethnic, regional, religious, disability and minorities variations.
- State provision that ensures effective implementation of all the provisions concerning women’s inclusion included in the Constitution of the Party.
- Void or reform provisions that block the system of mobility by giving opportunities to one or few persons from women and marginalized communities in the name of inclusion.
- Mention that women of physically and mentally disabled community are specially treated by provision in terms of their participation.
- State provisions that the Party will launch cultural campaign to mass sensitize cadres at grassroots on women’s concerns and discriminations against them.
- Introduce a provision in the party’s Constitution to ensure that perpetrators of violence against women are barred from securing party’s membership and if the existing members commit such acts then put a provision to cancel their membership immediately.
For more information contact DIPD Representative Shrishti Rana: firstname.lastname@example.org or project coordinator Susanne Adelhardt Jensen: email@example.com