Torchbearer for girls’ education is no more

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Torchbearer for girls’ education is no more

Sep 23, 2014-

Veteran CPN-UML leader Sahana Pradhan, a champion for girl’s education

and a leading figure in the 1990’s democracy movement, died on Monday night. She was 88.

Pradhan is remembered for advocating female education during the Rana rule. Because of her steadfast commitment to the cause, Prime Minister Padma Shumsher Rana allowed girls to go to school. She also proved her leadership during the struggles for democracy against the Rana oligarchy, the Panchayat system and  the Shah dynastic rule.    Born in Kathmandu, Pradhan joined politics from her student days and emerged as a leading woman leader among her contemporaries. She had quit her government job and devoted her entire life to politics.  

“She was among the few female leaders who were on the frontline of democratic struggle. She was an all-out supporter of democracy and advocate of human rights,” said Sushila Shrestha, who worked closely with Pradhan.

Following the success of the popular movement in 1990, Pradhan assumed the ministerial berths on several occasions. She was elected the deputy prime minister and the minister for foreign affairs in 2008.  

Pradhan’s contemporaries say her real political career began when she became the member of All Nepal Women’s Association. They say Pradhan’s affiliation with the association brought her close to her political mentor, future husband and the founding member of Communist Party of Nepal, Pushpa Lal Shrestha.

In 1975, Pradhan was terminated from her teaching job at the Tribhuvan University for campaigning against the Panchayat administration. She continued her political activism regardless.

“The most remarkable thing about her is that she was the first person to refuse the alternatives offered by King Birendra to replace Panchayat,” said Shrestha.

“While leaders like Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Girija Prasad Koirala were having difficulty making a decision, she was the one to demand multi-party democracy. She was very assertive and forthcoming in that way,” said Shrestha.

Pradhan earned many critics, some within her party for her bold and decisive nature.  She took a lead in the formation of the breakaway CPN-ML in 1998. She went on to become the faction’s chairperson before it eventually merged with the mother party.

UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli said, “She will always be remembered for her crucial role in institutionalising and strengthening democratic values.”

Published: 24-09-2014 09:10

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