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Workshop report on Marginalised Women Participation in CA Election

&

Election Awareness & Political Education in Nepal

Organised by Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre (LACC)

22-23 May 2007, Jhapa & 25-26 May 2007, Morang


INTRODUCTION

Constitution assembly is the process of formulating new constitution including equal participation of all sections of people. The participatory process in CA is very much necessary. It should be noted here that there should be an environment of inclusive participatory process. For that the electoral process should be such that all caste, indigenous/ethnic nationalities, Dalit, Madhesis, minorities can have their reasonable representation. It would be better to discuss how constitution would be made so that all Nepali enjoys similar kinds of feeling of ownness about the state. So inclusion of all socio-cultural groups according to their population strength is necessary in this work.

The Constitution inspired by the objective of securing social, political and economic justice guarantees basic human rights to every citizen of Nepal. The overall development of the country may be hard to realize without the inclusion of half the population. People are talking about woman's right, representation, participation, and inclusion. For these things to happen into practice women should be included in every sphere of the state and society. Only lip service is not sufficient for women's right. It should turn into the implementation. Though there are many conferences, seminars going on inclusion of women but one can hardly see women in press conferences, daises of any seminars, conferences, and mass gatherings. People are talking about the future of the state and the new Nepal. If we need a new Nepal then we need to learn new practices, which was not in Nepal until now. It has been now proved that until and unless there is inclusion of the half population the dream of 'new and prosperous Nepal' cannot be true. Until and unless the halves of the population participate in the process of restructuring of the state, no development can happen in Nepal. More over, until the marginalized women communities are aware of political situation of the nation, they cannot realize importance of their participation in the forthcoming election on CA.

WORKSHOP'S OBJECTIVE

  • To raise awareness on constitute assembly
  • To prepare targeted community to take part meaningfully in constituent assembly
  • To prepare how to use their voting rights and to be candidate of CA
  • To make aware about their importance and make them participate in politics.

SUMMARY REPORT

With financial support of FES, Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre (LACC) conducted workshop from 22nd to 26th April 2007. The workshop mainly focused on two themes: Marginalised Women Participation in CA Election and Election Awareness & Political Education in Nepal respectively. The two days workshop was conducted for two different groups of marginalized women community in the districts of Jhapa and Morang on 22nd - 23rd and 25th - 26th April 2007 respectively.

The main objective of the workshop was to provide basic information to the marginalized women communities such as Satar, Rajbansi, Dhimal, Maeche, Mushar, Batad, Jhagad and Tharus on the forthcoming constituent assembly and electoral process. The advocacy mainly focused on importance of every individual's meaningful participation for one's own right in the forth coming constituent assembly. The stimulation behind organizing constituent assembly is to create such constitution which is "made by people for people". The targeted women communities were made aware on their voting right as it falls under women's fundamental right. They should thus utilize their voting right without pressurized by other external concern, such as husband, political parties or any other sources.

Further, it conveyed the message that we should select /vote the right candidate as our leader / representative, so that our voice and needs are reflected in the - to be made new constitution. If women possess leadership quality and are quite aware of political issues, then they should come forward and be a candidate of election, representing their own community. It was explained that the representatives that are selected by voting process, will form a team and will be responsible for constructing a new constitution. The workshop also highlighted on the provisions of rights ensured by Nepal Interim constitution 2063, electoral process and it's procedural.

All the four events of the workshop were conducted by Prof. Dr. Shanta Thapalia (resource person) accompanied by Adv. Indira Shreesh (facilitator cum raporter). Mr. Chetnath Achrya and Mr. Nem Chaudary were local liaison from Jhapa and Morang district respectively. Similarly, Mr. Ratan Kumar Meche ( Meche) , Mr. Binaya Hasda
(Satar), Adv. Sunita Sundar Chaudary were interpreter. In total, there were 332 participants from these two districts.

WORKSHOP PROCEEDING

Report of Each District:

Jhapa District

The workshop in Jalthal VDC, Jhapa district was organized on 22nd and 23rd of April 2007 for the two different groups. There were 162 participants from Satar, Rajbansi, Dhimal and Maeche community in total. In comparison to the first group of first day, there were more participants on the second day. The programme was initially designed for women members of the targeted communities only. However, the high demands from the male members of the community to participate in the training compel the organizer to change in the pre plan. Thus, seats were organized on the floor and even outside the hall.

The workshop started in 10am and ended in 5 pm. The master of ceremony was done by Adv. Laxmi Khanal, district coordinator of LACC branch office. Adv. Indira Shreesh highlighted on the objective of the workshop and presented a small introduction of LACC. The programme started with informal discussion between participants and resource person on constitution assembly. The intention behind this discussion was to find out whether the participants were familiar to the topic or not.

The issues of informal discussion were based on following questions:

  • What is Constitution?
  • What is Constituent Assembly?
  • What is Interim Constitution?
  • What is Electoral Process?
  • What is Voting Right?

Through the informal discussion, it was found that most of the women participants were unaware of the word 'Constitution' and they said that they have heard the word for the first time in this workshop. Some few women had heard the word 'Constitution' but they didn't know what it meant. Similarly, the male participants also expressed their unfamiliarity on the topic, though some of them have heard the word 'constitution'. Prof. Dr. Shanta Thapalia described the meaning of constitution, constitution assembly, Interim constitution and electoral process. Since most of the participants were illiterate, it was really difficult to make them familiar. For example: the meaning of Constitution was described as -"As grand father is the head of a family, in the same way Constitution is the main Law of the nation." To make the local women community clear about the concept, Mr Ratan Kumar Meche (in Meche Language) and Mr. Binaya Hasda (in satar language) translated Prof. Dr. Shanta Thapalia in their communal languages. Adv. Indira Shreesh informed the participants on Interim Constitution of Nepal and provisions ensured by this constitution for the rights of women and indigenous people. The lunch time environment was refreshed by communal song of women participants from Satar and Meche community. After lunch break of one hour, the second session started at 2:30 pm. Prof. Dr. Shanta Thapalia continued the programme and explained in detail about the rights of women ensured by Interim Constitution especially focusing on women's voting right. It was also observed that women participants were unfamiliar with electoral process and voting right. The programme ended with a brief summing up of meaning of constitution, constituent assembly, interim constitution, electoral process, women's voting right and importance of women's participation in the forth coming election.

Morang District

The workshop entitled Marginalized Women Participation in CA Election and Election Awareness & Political Education in Nepal in Morang district was organized on 25th and 26th of April 2007 in Tataria and Banigama VDC respectively. The workshop started on 11am and ended on 5pm. There were 170 participants in the workshop from Mushar, Batad, Jhagad and Tharus community in total. The master of ceremony was done by Adv. Sunita Sundar Chaudary. She further presented introduction of LACC.

Adv. Indira Shreesh started the session on 10am by highlighting the objective of workshop. The participants were asked informally about the constitution, constitution assembly, interim constitution and electoral process. To make the workshop effective, Adv. Sunita Sundar Chudhary played the role of interpreter and translated all proceedings in the local Tharu language. Most of the women participants were found unfamiliar with the workshop's topic 'constitution'. They said that it is the first time that they have heard the term 'constitution'. Prof. Dr. Shanta Thapalia explained constitution, constitution assembly, in simple language which was translated by interpreter in the local language. In the second session, Adv. Indira Shreesh 'explained the rights of women in interim constitution'. Similarly, the participants were inquired about 'voting right'. They were found unfamiliar with the subject matter, which was later explained by Prof. Dr. Shanta Thapalia. The programme ended with a brief summing up of meaning of constitution, constituent assembly, interim constitution, electoral process, women's voting right and importance of women's participation in the forth coming election.

LEARNING AND RECOMMENDATION

The meaning of constituent assembly and the realistic practical knowledge of civic society regarding the subject seems missing. Only handfuls of public who are politically aware and living in urban areas are well conscious about 'constituent assembly' and its significance. As obvious, the ratio of illiterate and marginalized population is high than literate people in Nepal. Marginalized tribal communities are far from every opportunity. Thus, it is the urgent need of the nation to create a favorable ground to disseminate the meaning of 'constituent assembly' to these groups; so that each of the citizens takes active and meaningful participation in the forthcoming 'constituent assembly'. Mostly, remote areas and marginalized group are seen totally unaware of the subject matter. Despite the fact that they are ignorant, their desire to gain knowledge is praiseworthy. If information is shared, they can act significantly and make the constituent assembly a real success. It is felt that such information disseminating activities should be rapidly conducted all over the nation, especially to women from marginalized communities.

 
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