KATHMANDU, May 23: Only 73 women leaders have made it to the central committee of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) which was formed after the merger between the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center).
A list of the CC members made public by NCP General Secretary Bishnu Paudel on Tuesday reveals that women make up merely 16 percent of the party’s most powerful committee, while a staggering 84 percent (368 members) are men.
The representation of men is almost five times higher than women despite the fact that latter constitute over 50 percent of the national population. The 2011 census shows that women comprise 51.5% of the population of Nepal and the gap is expected to increase further this year.
The shrinking space for women politicians in higher ranks of the party has been seen as a bad sign for the country which not long ago saw women in the posts of president, speaker and chief justice all at the same time.
The poor representation of women has not gone down well among the female leaders who said that the dominance of men in the CC had exposed patriarchal mindset of the party leadership. Senior female leader are unhappy over lack of women’s representation in the party’s central secretariat.
NCP leader Pampha Bhusal said that the decrease in the number of female leaders in the top echelon of the party was discouraging for women, whose participation is continuously increasing in the party. She said that the issue would be raised during the meeting.
The low representation of women has also raised questions over party’s commitment to ensuring 33 percent representation of the women in parliament. Before the merger, the erstwhile UML had made it mandatory to ensure one-fourth representation of women in party committees.
The full list of the CC paints equally bleak pictures of representation of people from minorities and backward communities.
Men from Khas-Arya community make up over 40 percent of the CC, while members from excluded and marginalized communities including Dalit, Madhesi and Muslim have been poorly represented.
The complete list of CC member shows that twenty two ministers in Prime Minister KP Oli’s cabinet, six chief ministers and 17 couples have found a place in the CC.
In addition to 411 members, the newly-formed party has appointed six leaders including Amik Sherchan, Amrit Bohara, Keshav Badal, Pushpa Raj Kandel, Peshal Khatiwada and Somnath Adhikari.