Learn democracy and women rights from us, Nepal seems to tell the world

Sushila Karki
How many women do you see in the picture? Nepal’s first woman chief justice Sushila Karki (far left) being sworn in by the first woman president Bidhya Devi Bhandari (third from left) as the first woman speaker of the Nepalese parliament Onsari Gharti Magar (far right) looks on. Picture: Supplied by the Office of the President of Nepal

11 July 2015: Nepal turned another page in history Monday morning when its first woman chief justice took oath of office amid a swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace in Kathmandu.

Sushila Karki, known for her total intolerance for the corrupt and corruption, was sworn in today by president Bidhya Devi Bhandari who is another “first” in the young republic – the first woman to be the head of state. She is the second president of “New Nepal”.

The small South Asian nation must be doing something right because the participation of women at the national level has been rather impressive in recent years.

Pampha Bhusal, spokesperson, Maoist Centre
Pampha Bhusal, spokesperson, Maoist Centre

These female-dominated top offices have generated high hope and inspiration to everyday Nepalese women who traditionally, until now, were confined within the four walls of domesticity.

The spokesperson of the Maoist Centre, Pampha Bhusal, told southasia.com.au that this is all the result of the decade-long people’s war (waged by the Maoist party against the then constitutional monarchy) and the ensuing mass movement of 2006.

However, just because these three important offices (president, chief justice and speaker) are being held by women does not necessarily mean all women in Nepal are enjoying their rights.

Stating that Nepal’s new constitution guarantees women rights through its proportional and inclusive approach, Ms Bhusal warned that Nepalese women will not enjoy their full rights until and unless this is fully implemented.

Krandan Chapagain
Krandan Chapagain

When asked to comment on the appointment of chief justice Karki, senior Nepalese journalist and southasia.com.au associate Krandan Chapagain said, “Today’s event proves that Nepal does not need lessons in democracy and women rights from countries like USA, England and India.”

He said there were not many countries in the world with such a high rate of women participation at the top level. “We know what we are doing,” the news chief of Nepal 1 Television further added.

The high offices of the president and chief justice are not the only top coveted positions being held by Nepalese women. On 15 October 2015, Onsari Gharti Magar was unanimously elected as the first speaker of the legislature-parliament. Ms Gharti Magar entered politics through her involvement in the Maoist rebellion during which she actively participated in battlegrounds.

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