Print Edition - 2015-06-29 | Main News
Women leaders term document ‘patriarchal’
Jun 28, 2015-
The constitution draft has not only ignored the language concerning women that was agreed to in the first Constituent Assembly, it has also curtailed the rights of women guaranteed by the Interim Constitution, women leaders and activists from ruling and opposition parties have said.
The previous CA had agreed to recognise in the preamble of the constitution that the “feudal, centralised, unitary and patriarchal system” was the main reason for the injustice and inequality that women suffer. However, the term ‘patriarchy’ has been dropped from the new preamble.
“This was not even a contentious issue. It was passed unanimously by the first CA,” said former CA member and lawyer Sapana Malla Pradhan. “Who gave this authority to the Drafting Committee?”
Regarding the key positions of Parliament, it had been agreed that the Speaker and deputy Speaker would be chosen from different parties and genders.
In the new provision, the gender part has been removed and the provision only says that the nominees will be chosen from different parties.
Previously, it had also been agreed that one-third (33 percent) of the elected representatives in Parliament would be women.
The new provision only says that one-third of the total candidates should be women. This has been decided at a time when the ratio of proportional representation has decreased from 60 to 40 percent, and the ratio for directly elected representatives has increased from 40 to 60.
“This electoral system is not supportive of women,” said Rukmini Chaudhari, who is a member of the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC) of the CA. “There will now be only a handful of women elected, which will make a mockery of inclusion.”
Women leaders and activists have been demanding that one-third of the elected representatives in Parliament, 40 percent of the representatives in the provinces and 50 percent representatives in local bodies should be women.
Chaudhari argued that in the name of the ‘fast-track’ process, the new constitution had been drafted by breaching the rules set by the CA. “For instance, clause-wise discussions were not held in the drafting process,” she said.
“The new constitution, if passed without amendment, is useless for women,” said Sujata Koirala, who last week led a women’s delegation to make recommendations to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. “Provisions in the new constitution do not treat women as the equal counterparts of men when it comes to the issue of citizenship,” she told the Post.
Mahin Limbu, UML leader and a PDCC member, said that the party’s women wing has already submitted a memorandum to the party chairman to draw attention on the women’s issue. “Most of the provisions in the new constitution have curtailed the rights of women that were guaranteed by the Interim Constitution,” she said.
New draft has also taken away the non-discriminatory provision on virtue of sex. The proposed draft, instead of recognising broader reproductive rights of women as their special right, provides only safe motherhood
and reproduction, which are only parts of reproductive rights. As for prohibition on gender-based abortion as a fundamental right, the law is already in place. The Interim Constitution had recognised reproductive health and reproduction as fundamental rights.
The new citizenship provision stipulates that a person can apply for citizenship through either of their parents if both are Nepalis, which is regressive compared to the current provision in the Interim Constitution, which allows a child of a Nepali mother or a father to acquire the Nepali citizenship certificate by invoking descent.
In case of naturalised citizenship, a foreign male married to a Nepali woman would need to reside in Nepal for at least 15 years to become eligible to apply for the Nepali citizenship, while a foreign woman married to a Nepali man can immediately apply for the Nepali citizenship.
“If political leaders are afraid of the open border, I would like to tell them that crossing borders does not entitle anyone to citizenship,” said Malla. “If security is an issue, then why do they see children of Nepali daughters as threat, but do not fear those of a foreign woman married to a Nepali?”
“The new constitution is the epitome of patriarchy,” said Hisila Yami, UCPN (Maoist) leader. “They removed everything related to gender equality.”
Published: 29-06-2015 07:47