Dilliram Khatiwada, The Kathmandu Post, 10 Nov 2017
A total of 39 women can-didates are contesting in the upcoming federal and provincial elections in Province 1, but the political parties have failed to pick even one female candidate from the Muslim community under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system.
There are 14 districts in Province 1. Of the 39 female can-didates, 12 are competing for federal parliament and 27 for provincial assembly. The province has 28 federal constituencies and 56 provincial.
Five male candidates from the Muslim community are in the fray but, none of them are contesting on the tickets of three major parties.
Four are contesting in the elections as independent candidates while Jafar Ahamad Jamali of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal is running from Sunsari-4.
A few women, however, have been picked as candidates under the proportional representation (PR) system, which many believe is because of the law that makes it mandatory for the parties to ensure 33 percent women in both federal parliament and provincial assemblies.
The CPN-UML has picked Kalika Khan, Sumina Husain and Rubi Khan, the Nepali Congress has fielded Najbul Khan, Sarbatara Khan and Jamila Miya and the CPN (Maoist Centre) has selected Chandtara Kumari, Sakila Khatun and Sharada Khatun (Uprety) as PR candidates from the province.
“There are a total of 84 seats (28 for federal par-liament and 56 for provincial assembly), parties have failed to pick even one Muslim woman under the FPTP category,” said Najabula Khan, chairperson of Udayapur Muslim Sangh Nepal.
“The Muslim women were included in the proportional representation list as the law requires them to do so,” she added, describing the move as nothing more than mere tokenism.
Muslims account for 4.4 percent of the total population, according to the census 2011, with the Tarai region having the majority of Muslims.
There are 464 Muslims in the hill region, 56,339 in the mountain region and 11,07,452 in the Tarai region.
According to the census, the country has 579,501 female and 584,754 male Muslims in the country.
Najabula Khan said for the Muslims to make progress, people from the community should be given oppor-tunities.
As per the laws on Election of House of Representatives and the Bill on Election of Provincial Assembly, parties must ensure 13.8 percent participation of Dalits, 28.7 percent of indigenous nationalities, 31.2 percent of Khas Arya, 15.3 percent of Madhesis, 6.6 percent of Tharus and 4.4 percent of Muslims in federal parliament and provincial assemblies.