General

Parties leave out women, Dalits in candidate selection

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Oct 24, 2017-Political parties have picked a very small number of candidates from women and Dalit communities for the first phase of federal and provincial elections under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) category while candidates from indigenous communities number relatively higher.

According to the Election Commission, the parties have picked only five percent women as candidates for the first phase of elections scheduled to take place on November 26 in 32 districts in the upper region.

Only 41 candidates (18 for federal and 23 for provincial elections) are women out of a total of 803 contestants. The parties have been more reluctant to field women candidates in the direct polls compared to the Constituent Assembly elections in 2013, when the parties had picked 10 percent women as FPTP candidates.

There were 603 female candidates out of the total 6,125 in the second CA elections, according to the election authority. Women rights activists say the parties believe there is no need to have more women candidates for direct polls as they are guaranteed 33 percent seats through the proportional representation election.

The constitution guarantees one third representation of women in the federal parliament (House of Representatives and National Assembly). The parties are required to allocate 50 percent of their proportional seats to women.

“Considering the proportion of women candidates under the first phase of two elections, male candidates may not get a chance of election under the proportional electoral system,” said Saru Joshi, strategic partnership specialist at the UN Women.

She added that barring women from contesting direct elections could prevent them from developing leadership skills. Although the EC had proposed creating constituencies where only women could stand, lawmakers did not make it part of the laws governing elections to the House of Representatives and the provincial assemblies.

In the last CA elections, women filled 30 percent of the 575 electoral seats. The remaining of the total 602 seats were meant for nomination by the Cabinet.

As far as Dalit representation in the new constituencies is concerned, slightly more than two dozen candidates have been picked from the community for the scheduled elections. There are a just over a dozen Dalit candidates for federal elections and one-and-a-half dozen candidates for provincial elections, according to the EC.

As far as candidates from indigenous nationalities are concerned, their number is quite high. Around 130 candidates, around 40 percent of the total 322, are from indigenous nationalities for the federal elections.

Over 200 candidates are from the indigenous community for provincial elections, which represent over 41 percent of the total 481 candidates. Janajati activists view the scope of representation of their community in the elections positively. “It’s because elections in the first phase are held in the hilly and mountainous regions where the dominant population is of Janajatis,” said Jagat Baram, president of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities.

Published: 24-10-2017 08:24

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