Rajendra Manandhar, The Kathmandu Post, 10 Nov 2017
Election campaigns in Dolakha of Province 3 are seeing a remarkable participation of women, in what could be a striking manifestation of change the society is witnessing. But this also brings to the fore one of the major issues the country has been grappling with—unemployment.
Most of the men from the district have gone abroad in search of work. Women’s large presence in these campaigns is mainly because of absence of men in the district, local leaders believe.
Women’s role, however, is limited to attending the programmes, welcoming the guests and preparing garlands for the leaders; they are hardly seen sharing the dais with the leaders, mostly men. Nor are they invited to deliver speeches.
CPN-UML’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) candidate Pashupati Chaulagain from Dolakha-1 (B) for the provincial assembly has posted several pictures of his poll campaigns on Facebook which show significant presence of women. Nepali Congress (NC)’s Rudra Bahadur Khadka and UML’s Parwat Gurung, both FPTP candidates for the federal parliament, say there is a huge presence of women in the election activities.
Of the 2.08 million population of Dolakha, half of them are women. Women voters are more in the district than men in the district. Of the 147,878 registered voters in the district, the number of women is 74,016.
Kalika Pathak, vice chairperson of Kalinchok Rural Municipality, who was participating in an election campaign, said more women are taking part in poll activities. “In Magapauwa village, the number of women attending an election-related discussion programme was 60, while only 35 males were present,” said Pathak.
Kamala Basnet, deputy mayor of Bhimeshor Municipality, said the only males who are seen in the villages are service holders, senior citizens and children. Service holders do not attend political programmes. “We see huge presence of women in these election programmes as there are only a few men and youths left in the villages,” she added. Participation of women in poll-related activities may be huge here, but when it comes to fielding women, parties have been stingy, especially under the FPTP category. Of the 40 candidates in the race under the FPTP system, there is only one woman. Brihaspati Gole, 40, is running for the provincial assembly seat from Dolakha-1 (A) as an independent candidate. I decided to file my candidacy because major parties ignored women, said Gole.