Celebrating Women’s Leadership Journeys in Nepal
Recently, The Asia Foundation’s Subnational Governance Program (SNGP) in Nepal supported the Flourish Australian Embassy Women’s Leadership Summit 2023 in Kathmandu to mark International Women’s Month.
Celebrating women’s leadership, the summit provided a platform for women leaders of the local government and women diplomats to share their inspirational leadership journeys. Through this learning-sharing opportunity, they also discussed ways to advance social justice and gender equality.
Despite the varied sociocultural backgrounds of the leaders, their interaction further consolidated that women from all facets face similar struggles in their leadership journeys. Women diplomats from countries such as Spain, Sri Lanka, and Columbia, representing international agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations Development Program, shared their personal and professional struggles and how they overcame various challenges to reach where they are today. Similarly, 31 women-elected representatives of the local governments in Nepal shared their leadership accomplishments, which ranged from winning the election due to strong networking skills, to heading training and capacity-building workshops for other women, as well as encouraging elected representatives to actively participate in discussions and realizing the importance of being digitally competent.
The summit also included a presentation on SNGP-supported research on women’s representation in politics in Nepal, titled Proportional Inclusion/Representation: Conflict between Principle and Electoral Results – An Analysis on the Representation of Dalit and Marginalized Communities in 2022 Election. During his presentation, JB Biswokarma, chairperson of Dignity Initiative, highlighted how women have a nominal representation in the federal and provincial assemblies under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system as the political parties didn’t provide candidacy to many women politicians. Although there is a substantial representation of women at the local level, they don’t occupy key decision-making positions. Mr. Biswokarma added that there is still reason for celebration as women are slowly overcoming barriers and reaching leadership positions.
Similarly, DFAT’s She Leads program implemented by International Federation for Electoral System (IFES) also presented a paper on ‘Digital and Electoral Barriers for Women’s Participation in Governance.’ The findings recommended creating awareness and digital literacy, increasing access to a digital platform, developing strategies to counter online hate speech and disinformation, and strengthening coordination, collaboration, & networking among women and concerned stakeholders for accessible digital networks.
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