KATHMANDU, Dec 18: There were high expectations from women regarding their empowerment when the constitution promulgated in 2015 made it mandatory to have women as either speaker or deputy speaker in the federal parliament and provincial assemblies. But in reality, this has only given false impression about their empowerment to the public eyes.
Firstly, not a single woman has been elected as speaker in the federal parliament or the provincial assemblies. Secondly, all of the deputy speakers are women but they don't have any important role to play.
“I felt to be confined to a limited role in politics since I became the deputy speaker. If I try to play some active role, that might be construed as trying to overstep my role and infringe upon the speaker's jurisdiction,” said deputy speaker of Province 1, Saraswoti Pokharel.
Deputy Speaker of Gandaki Province, Sirjana Sharma, got a chance to chair the House meetings for two months just because Speaker Netra Nath Adhikari was ill.
“The provincial assembly took the decision to fix the provincial capital, name the province and announce the budget when I chaired the assembly. It proves that women can lead the House even amidst challenges. But now, I am worried whether I will get a chance to lead the House until the speaker takes leave,” said Sharma.
Deputy Speaker of Karnali Province, Pushpa Gharti, has never got a chance to commence and end the House meetings nearly a year after the formation of the provincial assembly although deputy speakers can lead the House in the absence of the speaker.
While sharing their experiences in an interaction with the newly-elected executive committee of Journalists Society for Parliamentary Affairs (JSPA) at parliament secretariat Singha Durbar on Monday, deputy speakers of all seven provinces complained about not getting any role.
“Contesting election for women is not easy. We can't make huge expenses and the party cadres are not loyal and supportive to women candidates. If we are confined only to the role of time keeper for the next four years, we won't have anything to explain to our voters,” said deputy speaker of Province 3, Radhika Tamang.
Deputy speakers at the provincial assemblies have arrived in Kathmandu to meet President Bidya Bhandari and Prime Minister K P Oli and put forth their grievances. They have complained of ranking them even below the principle secretary.
“The new civil servants adjustment bill has also decided to assign special class secretary to the provincial assemblies who will be senior to us in hierarchy,” they said.
Most of the deputy speakers complained that they also don't get chance to speak in the House and cannot mobilize any budget for development projects.
“Getting the post of deputy speaker at all seven provinces is itself an achievement for us if we look back to women's status in our society. But, we are still undermined by politicians and media even after being in respectable position,” said deputy speaker of Sudur Paschim Province, Nirmala Joshi.
Deputy speaker of Province 5, Krishni Tharu, and deputy speaker of Province 2, Uma Dev, urged for positive role from the media to empower women leaders including deputy speakers.