Nepal leads South Asia in women parliamentarians

Published On: April 3, 2017 05:27 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 2: Despite a decline since the previous Constituent Assembly (CA), Nepal has made it to top position in South Asia in the representation of women in parliament, according to a global study.

According to 'Women in Politics', a data map launched by the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women last month, Nepal has topped other South Asian countries, with 29.6 percent  women representation in its parliament.

Among the SAARC nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka rank second to eighth positions respectively. According to the study, the global average of women's representation in  parliament is 23.4 percent, and the average in Asia is 19.6 percent.  IPU data shows that the global average of women's representation in parliaments increased from 22.6 percent in 2015 to 23.3 percent in 2016.

The participation of women in parliament was an all time high of 32.8 percent in Nepal during the first CA, but it decreased to 29 percent in the second CA.

Nepal now has 176 women lawmakers out of 595, according to the study, which indicates the status up till January 2017. After the demise of CPN-UML lawmaker Dulari Devi last month, the number of women lawmakers in Nepal is now  175.

But Nepal lags behind at 48th position in global rankings, whereas Rwanda is in first position with 38.5 percent women in parliament. The Nordic countries, USA and the European countries have higher numbers of women in their legislatures and the Arab and Pacific countries have lesser numbers, according to IPU data.

Likewise, according to  IPU and UN Women data, Nepal is among 11 countries having women as heads of state.

The number of female speakers of parliament is the highest so far, with 53 out of 273 in  such posts. Nepal  elected its first female president and first female speaker on October 2015, after promulgation of the new constitution.

The number of women heads of state or heads of government fell from 19 to 17 since 2015, and progress in increasing  the number of women in parliament continues to be slow, according to the IPU and UN Women.

According to the study report, Nepal lags far behind in  appointing women to ministerial positions. Nepal is in 169th position in global rankings and has only bested Pakistan in South Asia in appointing women to ministerial positions. Nepal has just 3.7 women ministers in its cabinet according to the study. Bulgaria leads in the global rankings with 52.9 percent women ministers in its government.

According to the study, most women leaders get ministerial portfolios like environment, natural resources and energy, family affairs, women's affairs, gender equality, education and culture. In contrast, very few women ministers get information and media, parliamentary affairs, population and defense.

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