On May 14, Nepal conducted the first-phase of the country’s local elections, following a gap of nearly 20 years. Women have been elected in significant numbers and the Steering Committee members of the multiparty JOMPOPS platform, DIPD’s partner in Nepal, are now taking initiatives to support the newly elected women with necessary training to ensure that they can fulfill their leadership roles effectively. On June 2, a Steering Committee member organized the first round of trainings for newly elected female deputy mayors along with a few other elected female representatives.
Increasing Female Representation at Local Level
The new Constitution of Nepal, a result of the country’s peace process, has brought a number of governance reforms, including state restructuring. Nepal now has three tiers of government: national, provincial and local. The Constitution has also empowered the local level of government, which now has many important rights and responsibilities such as those related to education, health, infrastructure and cooperatives, among others.
The leaders of Nepal envisaged increased representation of women in the new governance structure, particularly at the local level with the Constitution guaranteeing around 40 per cent female representation at this level. Moreover, the Local Elections Act, finalized on the eve of the elections, requires that one of the candidates for mayor or deputy mayor has to be a woman.
The first-phase of the local elections resulted in the election of a large number of female candidates, a few women have become mayors and many have become deputy mayors. This is considered a remarkable achievement for the overall representation of women in leadership positions – also in a global perspective.
Energizing the Representatives
A JOMPOPS Steering Committee member from the Unified Marxist-Leninist party, Asta Laxmi Shakya, is the Vice-President of the party as well as in-charge of Province 3, covering a number of districts. Shakya strongly promoted election of female candidates in her province during the local elections. Now, she is keen on energizing and empowering the newly elected women to ensure that they are effective in their new leadership roles.
Shakya organized the first of such trainings on June 2, targeting the newly elected deputy mayors, who are directly elected in and will function as acting mayor in the mayor’s absence. In Nepal, deputy mayors also have special power as they are heads of the Judicial Committees in their municipalities, settling disputes under their respective jurisdictions.
Due to the busy schedule of the newly elected representatives, the training programme was a one-day session. Nevertheless, the full-day training covered important topics such as roles and responsibilities of the elected representatives, the legislative-executive-judicial structure of the local government, relevant legal frameworks, communication and networking.
DIPD’s Senior Adviser in Nepal shared Danish experiences on effective local governance, particularly drawing on practical insights from the locally elected representatives in Denmark and the Danish municipalities’ approaches and measures to serving the citizens. DIPD’s Representative to Nepal gave a presentation on various dimensions of leadership, emphasizing the importance of women in leadership positions, particularly at the local tier, where the deputy mayors will have to lead many initiatives to ensure service delivery to the Nepalese citizens.
The participants rated the training as highly useful, but also highlighted that future trainings should be longer. All the participants are soon beginning their work in their municipalities as “city mothers”. There is no doubt that these female leaders are likely to make unprecedented impact in the lives of ordinary Nepalese people, long denied the presence of elected representatives in their communities.