DAMAK, March 8: Menuka Kafle, the chairperson of Kamal Rural Municipality of Jhapa district, is the only woman chief in entire Province 1. It has now been one-and-a-half years since she has been serving in the capacity of the chairperson of a rural municipality.
Kafle, who also serves as a provincial committee member of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), had started her political career in 1980 as a participant of students’ protests.
She had filed her candidacy from the then CPN-UML but it also took a bit of luck for her to be elected as the chairperson.
During the vote counting, she was tied with Hukum Singh Rai of Nepali Congress as both the candidates secured 8,275 votes in the local elections.
The winner of the rural municipality was then declared through a lucky-draw, which went in her favor.
Kafle is known for her works in the field of women’s rights. Her works had paved her path to the local government. She had contested political positions numerous times but she was not always lucky.
In 2008, she contested the Constituent Assembly (CA) election from Jhapa 2 but faced a defeat. Likewise, she was a proportional representation candidate in the 2013 CA polls but did not get the role of a parliamentarian. Being a woman also made it very difficult for her to contest elections, she shared.
It was not easy for her after winning the elections either as she continued to face various challenges in the patriarchal society.
“In the initial days, people would come to me while I would be in the office and would ask to meet the chairman. They would be surprised after I told them I am the chief,” she said.
Being a woman, she continued facing many other obstacles. During the blacktopping of the Kerkha-Campa road section, the contractors refused to take instructions from Kafle as they made various excuses not to comply with her orders. When she called the contractors to pressurize them for timely completion, they did not respond properly.
“Sometimes, I feel that it’s impossible to accomplish some tasks without the muscles of a male. But we have to overcome gender bias and continue to move forward,” said Kafle, whose aim is to make Kamal Rural Municipality free from violence against women.
Chair Kafle is a mother of two children. “At home, I have to play the roles of a wife and a mother. And for the rural municipality, I’m the chairperson. I do my best to perform all my roles faithfully,” she added.