JHAPA, April 7: Enthusiasm among the women politicians in Jhapa was at the peak following the mandatory provision of candidacy of a woman for the post of mayor or deputy mayor in the local level elections. This had quite encouraged the aspiring women to fight for the leadership.
However, with the election inching closer, women's excitement is fading away as only men are being considered for the top post while women only for the secondary ones. They allege that the political parties are clearly trying to create an environment that leaves the women out of the leadership role.
According to women leaders, political parties are practicing gender discrimination by 'picking' only men for the posts of mayor. “It is not that women are not staking their claims for the candidacy of mayor, but only men are getting priority for the post. It has automatically created a male-friendly atmosphere,” noted Jasmaya Gajmer, president of the CPN - UML aligned All Nepal Women's Association. “Women are thus being sidelined or being picked only for the candidacy of deputy mayor,” she added.
Gajmer further stated that the parties are considering fielding men in local units where they have a strong hold and women candidates are being considered in local units where they are not likely to win.
There are seven rural municipalities and eight municipalities in Jhapa. In all the municipalities, male candidates are being tipped for the posts of mayor from the Nepali congress and CPN - UML.
Shushila Dhakal, president of Mahila Sangh, Jhapa admits that the parties have not been able to embrace the spirit of gender equality. “It's both way actually. While the parties are not encouraging women, the latter do not show the spirit to fight back and claim the candidacy either,” she said.
Interestingly, Dhakal herself has also not shown interest in staking claim for any post despite being active in politics for over one and a half decades. “I will campaign for the party,” she said.
There are 510,216 voters in Jhapa for the local elections, and, according to the election commission, 256,798 of them are women. Similarly, three voters belong to the group of gender minority. This time, 55,740 new voters have been added in the district.