After 20 Years: Women’s Political Participation in Nepal

Published on August 5, 2021

Thamsara Pun’s life has gone through some drastic changes in the last 20 years. From living a life of a shepherd, Pun is now the Chairperson of Dhaulagiri Rural Municipality of Myagdi District in the Gandaki Province. Pun started her formal education at the age of 23 when she enrolled in grade 8; she has completed her post-graduation and was elected as the chairperson of the rural municipality at the age of 45. 

She knows that while her life’s journey has been an exemplary one, women in Nepal still have a long way to go. “Even after 20 years, I feel like women are still struggling for better access to education and opportunities… It’s still not easy for us women.” 

She believes that politics has a role to play in ensuring more opportunities for women to attain education and other women’s rights. “We need to instill this in the minds of women. In the next 20 years, I don’t think women will have to face the challenges and struggles as I have gone through,” she shared.

Article 38 (4) of the Constitution of Nepal, 2015 mentions — ‘Women shall have the right to participate in all bodies of the State on the basis of the principle of proportional inclusion.’ Apart from the Constitution, the electoral quotas that were introduced during the local election have also provided women with the opportunity to participate in the local governance, development, and politics. At present, out of 35,041 local representatives, 14,339 are women; 91% of the deputy mayors and vice-chairpersons are women; 2% are mayors, 2% are chairpersons of rural municipalities and 1% are ward chairpersons. Their roles as people’s representatives have contributed in improving the lives of women which was largely ignored earlier. To continue such initiatives Nepal needs more women and marginalized women in leadership positions in politics and governance. 

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This video looks at the changing landscape of female participation in politics in the last 20 years through the stories of four locally elected female representatives, including Pun, from a diverse range of backgrounds. These women leaders share their thoughts and aspirations as they look forward to women’s participation in the next 20 years.

The video is produced by Australian Government — The Asia Foundation Strategic Partnership on Subnational Governance in Nepal in collaboration with Interface Nepal.