Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Nepal’ Category

New Director in Nepal

In January this year, Rasmus Helveg Petersen became the new Director for DIPD, succeeding Bjørn Førde who had retired in December 2016. The new Director visited Nepal from 15th March to 20th March mainly to meet with the local partners and to understand the overall situation of the country.

Meetings

The new Director met the Steering Committee members of the Joint Mechanism for Political Party Strengthening (JOMPOPS) jointly. The SC members welcomed the new Director and informed him about the ongoing activities of the platform. Appreciating collaboration among JOMPOPS members, Mr. Petersen committed continued support to the platform. He also met with other members of the JOMPOPS parties to learn about the key political issues of Nepal.

Similarly, Mr. Petersen met with the Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal. The Chief Election Commissioner updated him about the preparations of the local elections planned for 14 May 2017. He also thanked DIPD for supporting the Commission on training women candidates at the local level. Apart from the Election Commission, Mr. Petersen met with the representatives of the Danish Embassy and UN Women. All these meetings aimed to foster good relations with each other.

One of the JOMPOPS members also took DIPD Director to visit the earthquake-damaged sites.  The massive earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 had severely destroyed many buildings and old temples and monuments of Nepal besides taking lives of thousands of Nepalese people. The reconstruction process has not yet been complete owing to lack of necessary political collaboration. Interestingly, the JOMPOPS member who coordinated the visit of DIPD Director to the damaged sites has been recently appointed as the Chair of the monitoring committee of the earthquake reconstruction work in the Parliament.

Rasmus Helveg Petersen, during his first visit to Nepal as Director of DIPD.

Local Party Tour

On invitation of JOMPOPS member parties, the Director visited local party offices of two JOMPOPS parties.  Strengthening political parties at the local level has been a key theme of DIPD’s engagement in Nepal. Visiting party offices at the local level gave an opportunity to the new Director to observe their local organizational structure as well as to learn about their regular functioning.

In one of the local party offices, the Director also interacted with the members of marginalized communities such as women, dalits, and Muslims who had gathered in large numbers.  One of these participants also asked the Director to share about the Danish experience on addressing the issues of equal representation of women in politics.

The JOMPOPS Steering Committee members from all the six parties had accompanied the Director during these local party tours. And this can be considered as a significant achievement for the platform. Generally, it’s not common for politicians from other parties to attend internal party programmes of another party in Nepal.  A few JOMPOPS Steering Committee members also felt awkward in the beginning, not sure if they should be part of the multiparty delegation.

Later on, they decided to go ahead with this expressing their commitment to the multiparty spirit. As one of the Steering Committee members Jitendra Sonal from the Terai Madhesh Democratic party put it, “If we have decided to be part of the multiparty platform then we should have an open attitude towards participation in such multiparty programmes.”

The local party members were clearly impressed by the presence of such influential leaders from different parties together in a programme. They expressed that such collaboration should translate at the local level as well.

Rasmus Helveg Petersen during his first visit to Nepal as Director of DIPD.

Outcome of the Mission

During the visit of the new Director, the political atmosphere in Nepal was quite tense. This tension was triggered particularly by the death of five people in Saptari district, when police opened fire on 6 March 2017 at the Madhesi agitators trying to disrupt the ongoing campaign of the opposition UML party.

This incident resulted in more bitterness between the Madhesi Morcha (a joint alliance of Madhesi parties which also includes two JOMPOPS parties) and the three largest parties of Nepal. The Madhesi Morcha had demanded the passage of the Constitutional Amendment bill as a condition for participating in the local elections. The bill was not passed mainly due to resistance from the opposition UML party.

Therefore, supporters from the Morcha had tried to disrupt the UML’s campaign in the Terai area. Against this uneasy background, killing of Morcha supporters by the government inflamed the ongoing political tension especially by further angering the Morcha members.

Despite this difficult situation, all JOMPOPS members remained committed to multiparty dialogue and participated in the joint events during DIPD Director’s visit to Nepal. Undoubtedly, there was some hesitation and uneasiness but the JOMPOPS members nonetheless could rise above them. One of the Steering Committee members from the Madhesi party in JOMPOPS had shared:

There’s a huge outrage among Madhesi people against the government due to the recent incident.  If they see us sitting together with the members of the government parties then that could be perceived wrongly by the people with implications on our votes during the elections.  Yet we participate in the multiparty platform because of our commitment to multiparty dialogue and collaboration.”

This continued collaboration even during tough political times can be considered as one of the significant outcomes of DIPD Director’s visit to Nepal. Even in such difficult political times, his visit could bring all the JOMPOPS parties together. And this opportunity also gave them space to understand each other and to informally explore solutions to mitigate the rising political differences.

Overall, the mission of DIPD Director can be considered as a success because he could reinforce trust with the local partners that has been the key pillar of DIPD’s engagement in Nepal.

More information

Read more about DIPD’s engagment in Nepal.

Contact Senior Advisor at DIPD, Hanne Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.dk

DIPD’s work on Youth in Politics is rated as Promising Practice

In an independent review of more than 76 global programmes in support of youth, DIPD’s engagement with promoting youth in politics is considered as promising practice that can inspire both the MFA and other organisations.

The Danish MFA undertook the review to inform how the MFA optimizes and operationalises the new Development Cooperation Strategy and it’s particular focus on youth.

In the new Strategy Denmark has committed to giving young people “ the opportunity to enhance their participation and influence in society as involved, committed and equal actors with the ability and opportunity to take developments into their own hands” Moreover the strategy outlines that these objectives are to be achieved through various measures within policy, programme and partnerships. The review was undertaken in view of these two main strands in mind.

Minister for Development, Ulla Tørnæs, presents a review of MFA’a youth engagements.

While DIPD’s youth programmes are not directly part of the MFAs youth portfolio, DIPD’s method of work was included by the review team and also discussed by the international youth panel involved in the review itself and rated as promising practice.


Promising practice: Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD); strengthening youth involvement in the political parties through inspiration and exchange between political parties’ youth wings.

DIPD supports democracy through support to political parties in developing countries with funding from Danida, partly through the Danish political parties and partly through direct support to multi-party democracy initiatives. DIPD has identified the strengthening of youth involvement and participation within the political parties in developing countries as one of a limited number of areas where Danish support can add specific value. In cooperation between DUF and DIPD, a guideline on ‘how to build a youth wing’ has been developed by young Danish youth wing members, used as training and inspiration material. Exchange activities between the young members from Denmark and Egypt, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, Palestine, Myanmar, Bhutan, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya and Bolivia has been implemented. DIPD has both directly implemented and funded a number of projects, through Danish political parties, their youth wings and youth members in developing countries to increase focus on and strengthen youth as political actors. A recent evaluation found that ‘project activities gave the young participants new skills and self-esteem, particularly among young women in traditionalist societies’.

Youth leading the world 2030: a review of Danida’s youth-related engagements, Final Report, 2017, p. 12


Danish and Egyptian youth share experiences on the Nile.

DIPD employs a systemic approach to working with youth in politics that both engages party leadership  and agenda setting through advocacy, look at party structures and processes that facilitates or hinders youth engagement and finally capacitates youth and facilitates multiparty youth dialogues and platforms.

With this approach the institute and the Danish political parties together with youth and partners are very well placed to initiate and facilitate change relating to several of the main recommendations of the review. The recommendations where DIPD can make a particular contribution are listed below:

  • Unleashing young people’s agency – Support formal and informal youth-led organisations, networks and movements to lead, initiate, design and implement their own initiatives – Several of DIPDs programmes are supporting leadership development of the youth and the establishment of youth wings or youth platforms that can take own action and agency.
  • Prioritise youth-to-youth exchanges between Denmark and developing countries, particular between youth-led organisations and movements. In DIPD’s work the exchange between party youth in cooperation countries and party youth in Denmark is a center piece and mutual learning and peer dialogue has taken place with youth in Egypt, Malawi, Kenya, Myanmar, Palestine, just to mention a few.
  • Support linkages between youth and gender movements, and promote the nexus of the two – In several of DIPD’s programmes – for example in Malawi and Myanmar, the strategies on youth involvement interact with measures to involve more women in political parties and often the agenda setting work is focused on both youth and gender.
  • Champion Youth priorities in National Policy Dialogues with Governments in Priority Countries – while it takes time and concerted action to facilitate youth dialogues on national policies it also takes national opportunities for policy input to make it fly. In Myanmar the current formulation process of the National Youth Policy came as a welcome opportunity for DIPD to facilitate input from the youth through the DIPD supported Multiparty Youth Dialogue Platforms. In several other countries such as Kenya and Malawi similar processes are or have been underway.

In DIPD’s updated Global Strategy for 2018-2021 Youth in Politics will continue to figure prominently.

Danida report on youth engagements.

More information

Read more about DIPD’s youth engagement in Myanmar.

Read more about DIPD’s youth engagement in Egypt and watch FUTURE DEMOCRATS – a film about the Danish-Egyptian Youth Network.

Read more about The Socialist People’s Party and the Liberal Party’s joint partnership in Malawi.

Contact Project Coordinator at DIPD, Mathias Parsbæk Skibdal: maps@dipd.dk


 

International Women’s Day in Bhutan – The fight for gender equality transcends international borders

The struggle for gender equality in Denmark dates back more than a century; in other parts of the world the fight has just begun, but what remains common across the globe is that gender equality is an urgent issue worth fighting for. The transcending character of International Women’s Day is apparent in Thimpu, Bhutan, where DIPD is co-hosting a regional conference on how to improve female representation in politics.

 

Firm determination for change

International Women’s Day symbolizes what has been achieved in regards to gender equality across the globe. And there is much to celebrate. But the 8th of March is also an opportunity to discuss what is yet to be accomplished.

This is exactly what is happening today in Thimpu, where politicians from Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan are gathered at the 2nd National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics, co-organized by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD). And the goal is crystal clear: the political parties express firm determination to bring more women to the forefront of politics to be given political opportunities and to take political responsibility.

As Dorji Choden, Minister of Works and Human Settlement in Bhutan, says:

“Women can no longer stand at the sideline – CSOs, Government, political parties and private companies must work together to bring positive change.”

The commitment to deliver on gender equality and bring change is reinforced by Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay:

“When you die, what happens? We believe in rebirth. Would you like to be reborn as a women or as a man? In this light we all better ensure that gender equality prevails,” says the Prime Minister.

 

The parliament of Bhutan, where only 7 percent of MP’s are women. But there is a strong will in the country for this to change.

The Danish experience

Also attending the conference in Bhutan is former Danish MP Gitte Seeberg, ready to share experiences from the Danish struggle for gender equality:

“The development has been ambiguous in Denmark, where we for example have seen a parliament without women in important councils, and where women still are underrepresented in the business world and have lower salaries than men.”

Although the fight for equality is still underway in Denmark, Gitte Seeberg believes that the experiences from Denmark can contribute to the democratic development of one of the world’s youngest democracies, Bhutan:

“It has taken Danish women 100 years to get to where we are today. It is absolutely necessary that we help women in Bhutan in  gaining the tools to move faster than we have done.”

And much suggests that Bhutan’s political development will move at a much faster pace than in Denmark. Democracy was not introduced in Bhutan until 2008. Since then the positive development of democracy has been confirmed with free parliamentary elections in 2013 and local elections in 2016.

Yeshey Choden from the People’s Democratic Party of Bhutan is encouraged by the latest elections, but there is still a long way to go – only 7 % of the elected MPs are female.

“We hope that the debate and renewed attention to gender balance on 8th March during the 2nd National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics in Bhutan will provide a drive for more fundamental change in the future,” says Yeshey Choden.

DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen on his way to a meeting together with the leader of the political opposition in Bhutan.

Real change takes place 360 days a year

As important as the 8th of March is in creating awareness of the urgent issue of gender equality, DIPD Director, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, stressed that the day should never stand alone:

“Although it is great to be celebrating the achievements made today, it is important to remember that the real change takes place 360 days of the year.”

 


The conference on women in politics from March 8th – 11th is organized by Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) in partnership with DIPD with participation by DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen and DIPD Senior Adviser Hanne Lund Madsen. Professor Drude Dahlerup and former MP Gitte Seeberg are also attending.

 

More information

Read more about DIPD’s partnership with Bhutan Network for Empowering Women and DIPD’s work in Myanmar and Nepal.

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.dk

 

Women lining up for democracy

In anticipation of the celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March the political parties, participating in the multiparty dialogue in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, expressed firm determination to bring more women to the forefront to take political responsibilities.

Maran Ja Seng Hkawn, MP from Kachin Myanmar (KDSP), is eager to share experiences with colleagues from Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal and expresses commitment to make more women line up for democracy:

“Today there are many different types of barriers – some changes require firm action from current political party leadership, but other changes are in the hands of women themselves to initiate”.

In  Nepal, a stronger position of women is both due to the prolonged political struggle that has made the crucial role of women visible, the efforts of the women’s movement, the joint and concerted efforts of the multiparty platform JOMPOPS, as well as legislative measures such as quotas.

DIPD director, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, held a key note speech stressing the need for cooperation and not just competition among political parties to bring about changes.

Colleagues from Bhutan are encouraged by the increase of female representation in the last local elections in Bhutan, but the overall result was still too low to ensure gender balance in the governance of Bhutan.

“Many of the agreements made by political parties and related stakeholders in 2014 still await implementation – including mentoring programmes for women candidates and MP’s, gender reviews of party manifestos and an increase in party nomination of women for political positions,” as expressed by Yeshey Choden, Peoples Democratic Party, Bhutan.

Maran Ja Seng Hkawn, MP from Kachin Myanmar (KDSP) and Yeshey Choden, Peoples Democratic Party, from Bhutan in talks with DIPD Senior Adviser Hanne Lund Madsen

“But we hope that the debate and renewed attention to gender balance on 8th March during the 2nd National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics in Bhutan will provide a drive for more fundamental change in the future,” says Yeshey Choden.

The multiparty dialogue seminar was organized by Bhutan Democracy Dialogue and Election Commission Bhutan in partnership with DIPD with participation by DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen and DIPD Senior Adviser Hanne Lund Madsen. Tomorrow at the 8th March celebration Drude Dahlerup and Gitte Seeberg will also share their experiences with Women in Politics.

 

 

 

 

More information

Read more about DIPD’s partnership with Bhutan Network for Empowering Women and DIPD’s work in Myanmar and Nepal.

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.dk

Promoting leadership of women at local level

JOMPOPS has started a new partnership with the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) to promote leadership of women at local level with technical support from DIPD and the Governance Facility.

On 30 and 31 January 2017, a preparatory orientation programme for the local level training of women political leaders was held in Kathmandu essentially to finalize the content as well as to develop implementation plan for a series of multiparty local level training for women.

Political Context: Local Elections in the Offing

The new Constitution declared in September 2015 stipulates that three new elections viz. national, provincial, and local need to be held by February 2018. Given the long gap in holding of the local elections (the last local elections were held in 1997), political parties have decided to prioritize the local elections first.

In this situation, JOMPOPS felt that empowering women to contest local elections is crucial because the new Constitution guarantees around 40 % representation of women in the elected local level bodies. To achieve this objective, JOMPOPS decided to partner with the Election Commission of Nepal because it is a constitutionally mandated body to ensure representation of women in the elected local bodies as per the provision of the new Constitution.

Empowering Women to Contest Elections

One of the reasons why women political leaders at the local level hesitate to contest the local elections is because they are not fully aware about the technical processes of contesting an election. Most often, they are also not updated about the new legal provisions regarding women’s representation at the local level. Therefore, JOMPOPS designed a training programme for women leaders at the local level that would orient them about the necessary technical processes about contesting an election such as filing of candidacy.

Accordingly, JOMPOPS requested the Election Commission of Nepal to implement multiparty training for women at the local level focusing on those technical processes about the elections. ECN and JOMPOPS also agreed to cover necessary legal information and practical tips for succeeding in the elections from experienced political leaders in the planned training.

To start with, JOMPOPS and ECN agreed to conduct a pilot programme selecting seven districts from the seven federal provinces. The main objectives of the training were outlined as – inspiring women at the local level to contest elections and providing them with key technical/legal knowledge to contest the elections.

Participants with senior politicians and senior ECN officials.

Preparing for the Local Level Programme

In preparation for these local level training, on 30-31 January the ECN organized an orientation programme to finalize the content of the pilot local level training as well as to draw up an implementation plan. Three participants including the district’s top election official, the District Election Officer, as well as Gender Focal Person and one additional person came from each district from the seven provinces.

As the programme covered all the seven provinces, participants reflected rich ethnic diversity of Nepal. Out of these seven districts, two (Bajura and Kalikot) are geographically backward with low ranking in all the indicators of human development. The six participants from these districts had to travel for days before reaching the capital for the programme.

The opening session of the programme was attended by senior politicians and parliamentarians from JOMPOPS parties and high-level officials from the ECN including the Chief Election Commissioner. All the speakers during this session emphasized on the importance of the training for women at the local level particularly in the context of the upcoming local elections.

Former UNIFEM Director Chandni Joshi took a session on gender, explaining the importance of the representation of women at the local level to the participants.  Participants also worked together in groups to finalize the content for the local level training on the election-related issues such as introduction to elections, gender and elections, filing of candidacy, contesting elections, and practical election session.

The entire session plans for all the five election modules were presented the next day in a plenary session; these session plans along with the corresponding presentations had been finalized with inputs from Gender Coordinators from the JOMPOPS parties.  The participants were also trained by a facilitation expert on how to deliver these modules effectively.

On the final day of the two-day programme, the participants finalized the programme for the local level training as well as agreed on the necessary details for its implementation. Given the early possibility of the local elections, participants agreed to conduct the local level programme as early as possible.

According to Navaraj Dhakal, the Joint Secretary of the ECN, tens of thousands of women need to be elected in the local bodies as per the provisions of the new Constitution for which, depending on the parties that will join the fray, hundreds of thousands of potential female leaders need to file their candidacy. All major parties admit that they do not have enough women inside the party trained to contest the elections. Therefore, series of training like the one planned is considered crucial in ensuring representation of women in leadership positions at the local level, which is the political base at which leadership gets nurtured, and grows and emerges for the upper tiers.

Participants from remote districts of Nepal who had to travel for days to reach Kathmandu.

More information

Contact DIPD Country Coordinator in Nepal, Shristi Rana: shristi@dipd.org.np