Women's representation in cabinet declining

Published On: August 27, 2016 01:00 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, Aug 27: The new Constitution, which was promulgated last year, has provisioned under Article 38 that women shall have the right to proportional, inclusive participation as part of their fundamental rights.

The Interim Constitution in 2007 also stated under the fundamental rights  provision that women as well as Dalits, indigenous peoples, the Madhesi communities and the oppressed classes shall have the right to take part in state structures on the basis of proportional inclusion.

But the figures show that the representation of women, Madhesis, indigenous people, Dalits and other backward communities in recent cabinets has been constantly on the decline with the formation of each new government since 2007.

None of the governments formed after 2007 has appointed at least one-third women members . Nine governments have been formed since the commencement of the Interim Constitution in 2007, but only four governments appointed more than 10 percent women ministers in the cabinet.

The incumbent Pushpa Kamal Dahal government has only four percent women representation, which is the lowest since 2007. Only Sita Devi Yadav has been appointed a woman minister in the present 27-member cabinet.

Dahal was the same leader who had appointed the highest percentage of women ministers in his first cabinet in 2009. The Dahal-led first Maoist government had four women ministers out of 23 cabinet members, which amounted to 15 percent representation.  After Dahal, then Maoist prime minister Bahuram Bhattarai appointed 13 percent women in his cabinet. The Nepali Congress led two governments after 2007 and appointed above 10 percent women ministers. The Girija Prasad Koirala government had 11 percent  women representation (two ministers). Similarly, Sushil Koirala's government had 12 percent (three ministers) representation of women ministers.

The preceding K P Oli-led government and other two governments led by the CPN-UML had two  women ministers each. The Oli government had six percent women representation and both the Madhav Nepal and Jhal Nath Khanal-led cabinets had seven percent.  

The Khil Raj Regmi-led interim council of ministers in 2013 had eight percent (one minister) women representation in the cabinet.

Most of the governments after 2007 appointed women leaders as state ministers, although all the political parties had assured the represention of at least one-third women in every state organ.

With most of the Madhes-based political parties taking to the streets in protest against the new constitution drafting process and its contents, representation of Madhesi communities in the cabinet has also decreased since the second constituent assembly election in 2013.

Representation of Madhesi communities was highest in the Bhattarai-led government in 2011. But the Oli-led first government after the promulgation of the new Constitution had only a single Madhesi minister.  

Representation of indigenous ethnic communities in the cabinet was poorest in the Sushil Koirala-led government in 2014. Dahal, who had appointed the highest ever number of indigenous and ethnic communities in his first government, has now appointed only two ministers from those communities.

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