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Training/Seminar Report on

Initiative for Democracy Building: Women's Education about Voters and Civic Rights

Organised by Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation (TPAMF)

May 30-31, June 1-2, 2007


Background

Nepal is passing through a very critical time in its political history. Democracy has been restored and people's representatives have taken the regime on their hands. The peace process is on going and the Maoists have joined the government. Election to the Constituent Assembly is going to be held during 2007. Future of the kingship will be decided by this Constituent Assembly. However, there is a vast knowledge gap among the majority of the voters about the objectives and process of the Constituent Assembly and the issues that will be addressed by this Assembly. There have been discussions and publications about Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu Valley and people are comparatively aware of the process. But this can not be said of larger masses in other areas of the country. The voters need to be made aware on these issues. There is an urgent need for information diffusion and discussions on these issues, particularly among the women voters of remote areas and of disadvantaged communities.

Further, much is at stake for women as women. Previous Constitution has had many clauses that discriminated against women. The Interim Constitution has changed much but a few issues such as discriminatory provisions on citizenship still remain. Further, it important that the new Constitution to be formulated by the Constituent Assembly does not regress from the advances made in Interim Constitution.

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) has been organizing and sponsoring various events in political process and the current political issues in Nepal. It now feels that the women voters needs to be made aware about the process of Constituent Assembly and issues that needs to be addressed from the gender perspective. In this context FES has invited TPAMF to submit a proposal to empower women voters on the Constituent Assembly Election. This workshop/training will educate selected women representatives from different districts on the processes and issues involved and enable them to disseminate and advocate gender issues in their respective areas of work. This will contribute to enabling rural women in these areas to make informed choice in the forthcoming elections.

Objective of the training/seminar

The broader aim of the training was to empower women voters to make informed choice in the coming Constituent Assembly Election. Specifically, this event helped to;

  1. Empower selected women participants from different districts on the women issues that need to be addressed by the constituent assembly.
  2. Make participants aware of the purpose and process of constituent assembly

Methodology

Selection of participants was done from 10 different districts (Far West: Darchula, Kailali; Mid West: Dailekh, Achham, Rolpa; Western: Nawalparasi, Baglung, Kapilvastu; Central: Chitwan, Dhanusha), 5 participants from each district. Those districts were selected where SAHAVAGI is implementing its programs, and where SAHAVAGI has its network with district level NGOs working in remote and excluded communities.

All the participants were women associated with associations and district level NGOs working in advocacy or other community development activities.

Number of participants and venue

Two training/seminars of two days duration were held in Sauraha of Chitwan district. The first even was held from May 30-31, 2007 and the second event was from June 1-2, 2007. Number of participants was 30 in each event.

The training was participatory. Short lecture, group discussions, presentations, and questions and answers techniques were applied to enhance the knowledge and understandings of the participants.

Outline of the training/seminar

The broad outline of the training was as follows;

  1. What, why, how of constituent assembly
  2. Current political debate on federal vs unitary system of stats structure
  3. Fundamentals of the democracy and the democratic system
  4. Overview on interim constitution from the perspectives of women and its inadequacies and issues for upcoming constitution assembly
  5. How to increase women's representation in the constituent assembly
  6. How to make informed choice in constituent assembly election
  7. Action plan for rolling out

Since both training/seminar events had similar content and same methodology, session plans, and the issues raised by the participants were similar, no separate reports have been prepared for the two events. This is the combined report of both events.

Training/seminar proceedings

Day -1

The training/seminar started at 8:30 in the morning. Mr. Shaligram Sharma, the Executive Director of SAHAVAGI welcomed the resource persons and the participants. He noted that, the general public is confused on the meaning, process and agendas of constituent assembly; therefore, this type of training/seminar is very timely and important to make the general public aware of the above issues. Participants of the training were selected from 10 districts (five from each district), who are working as a catalyst in their respective communities. Thus, he hoped that the participants will be able to transfer the knowledge they have gained in the training to their respective communities.

After the welcome speech, Ms. Sita Karki, from Darchula district informally opened the training/seminar.

In the second event, after the welcome speech by Mr. Shaligram Sharma, Dr. Dev Raj Dahal, the Country Director of FES, gave the introduction of his organization and highlighted on the importance of this training/seminar. Dr. Meena Acharya, General Secretary of Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation, after a brief speech informally opened the training/seminar.

Mr. Sitaram Prasai, the facilitator then briefed the participants about the logistic arrangements and session plan of the two days training. Afterwards, his role in the whole event was to link the sessions and act as co-resource person in each session. After his briefing, participants introduced themselves. A chairperson was selected to chair the day's sessions.

All the sessions in both events were very lively and highly interactive. Participants were keen to gain knowledge on every subjects covered in different sessions. As such various questions and issues were raised by the participants based on their work as well as personal experiences. This report contains only the major subjects covered in the sessions.

Session 1: What, why and how of constituent assembly

Norms setting

The floor was then handed over to Mr. Kashi Raj Dahal, an expert on constitution. Before beginning the session, the resource person asked the participants to set the norms of the training and linked the exercise with the process of formulation of national constitution. During the norms setting exercise, participants felt difficulty in reaching consensus on the type of punishment in case of violation of norms. He then explained that, since different persons have different views even in this small gathering, same type of difficulties are faced during formulation of law of the land. He explained that, in enacting laws, the first option is all party consensus and the second and third options are two third majority and simple majority. This exercise was highly educative for the participants to understand the process of constituent assembly and proceeding in legislature and other group decision making process.

The constitution and the hierarchy of laws

Mr. Dahal started the session by stating that constitution is the fundamental law of the land, which needs to be followed by people living in that country. He explained that, all the act, rules and regulations of the country are guided by the letter and spirit of the constitution, and if these acts and laws go against the spirit of the constitution, they will be automatically nullified. The hierarchy of state laws were visualized and explained as follows;

Constitution

Act/Law

Rules and Regulations

Directives

Constitution is formulated only in special situations, these situations may be

1. After revolution or war or popular movement,
2. After civil war,
3. After independence from colonial rule,
4. In case of constitutional crisis.

Constitution is a necessary instrument for guaranteeing lasting peace, fundamental rights of the citizens, and life, liberty and prosperity of people. He explained that the constitution most importantly lays down the fundamental rights of the citizens, human rights, specifies state structure (legislative, executive, and judiciary), separation of power, and authority of different state structures. Participants raised various questions on hierarchy of laws, their scope and the process of formulation. The resource person duly answered the questions raised by the participants with practical examples. He explained that, legislature has the power to formulate acts and laws, the executive body or the government has the responsibility and power to enforce the law and the judiciary has the power to define the covenants and scope of law. Rules and regulations are formulated to operationalize the law. By-laws are formulated by autonomous organization. Directives are given by the government to enforce the acts, rules and regulations. The laws, rules and regulations can be contested in the court by the citizen. He gave various examples of court cases, where citizens have contested against the state law and won the case.

Group work

Participants were divided into three groups and asked to work on three important questions relevant in the current situation of Nepal.

Questions to participants in the first event

1. Why is constitution formulated? and what are the important issues that needs to be addressed by the constitution?

2. How can we increase the participation of voters in the constituent assembly election?

3. What are the major issues on women which needs to be addressed by the constitution that will ensure equal right of women both in law and in practice?

Questions to participant in the second event

1. Why is constitution formulated? What are the important issues that need to be addressed by the constitution? And what changes are required in the present state structure for equal participation and representation of all citizens?

2. What types of exploitation and violence against women is prevalent in Nepal? What fundamental rights should be provisioned for women in the new constitution for their overall development?

3. How can we increase the participation of voters in the constituent assembly election including women?

Issues to be addressed by constituent assembly

The recent popular movement in Nepal has given an unprecedented opportunity to Nepalese people to formulate new constitution. The new constitution will be formulated by constituent assembly formed by people's representatives. Discussion was held on the important issues to be addressed by the constituent assembly. The participants identified following issues to be address by the constituent assembly;

1. Monarchy and any form republic,
2. State structure,
3. Special consideration to women, backward areas, class, Dalits, Madhesi, and disadvantaged ethnic groups.

The resource person discussed on different forms of kingship and explained about absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, and ceremonial monarchy. Similarly, discussion was held on the state structure as federal, semi-federal and unitary, and necessary elements (homogeneity in geographic situation, culture, and language; people's desire, and economic resources) to make the federal structure successful. Further discussions were held on the features of democracy. He listed some important features of democracy as follows;

  • Periodic election
  • Respect of minority
  • Rule of law
  • Protection of basic human rights
  • Separation of power

He then added that in Nepal, the three important mandates currently for the constituent assembly are;

1. Establishment of lasting peace
2. Restructuring of state and division of power
3. Establishment of a fully democratic regime

Different process of formulating constitution

Mr. Dahal started the discussion on different process of formulating the constitution. He gave example of various countries where different method was adopted to formulate the constitution. He listed six different processes as follows;

1. Constitutional conference
2. Referendum
3. Political conference
4. Declaration by head of the state
5. Approval by legislature
6. Constituent assembly

The United States of America was the first country to formulate written constitution in 1789. The constitution was formulated by a constitutional conference. Presently there are 195 countries with written constitution. The first constituent assembly election was held in France in 1791 and presently there are 42 countries whose constitutions have been formulated by the constituent assembly. It is believed that constituent assembly is the best way to represent people's view in the constitution. It is a democratic process that promotes maximum participation of people (from different groups).

Constitutional history in Nepal

  • Constitution of Nepal - 2004 BS (1947),
  • Interim constitution of Nepal - 2007 BS (1950),
  • Constitution of Nepal - 2015 BS (1958),
  • Panchayati constitution 2019 BS (1962),
  • Constitution of Nepal 2047 BS (1991),
  • Interim constitution 2063 BS (2007)

Basis for representation in constituent assembly election

Brainstorming session was held among participants on the basis for representation in the constituent assembly. They agreed that following are the most important considerations in the formation of constituent assembly;

1. Population
2. Geographical area
3. Class
4. Caste and ethnicity
5. Nomination

The resource person explained that different countries in the world have taken different basis in the formation of constituent assembly; however, in the case of Nepal all these factors need to be taken into account. He also added that members could be either elected or nominated.

Session 2: The proposed Constituent Assembly in Nepal

Constituent assembly may be formed through representation of people by election or nomination by the interim government. In Nepal it is agreed that 480 representatives will be elected (240 from majority vote and 240 from proportional representation) and 17 will be nominated by the interim government. Discussion was then held on the procedure of election. The resources person identified four different procedures/systems of constituent assembly election; a) Majority vote, b) Proportional representation, c) Mixed, and d) Miscellaneous. Participants raised their quarries on each system. The resource person then discussed the processes and advantages and disadvantages of each of them.

Majority vote

Under this system, the whole country is divided into different electoral constituencies. In the case of Nepal, the eight parties have agreed for 240 constituencies. Different political parties file their candidates to contest for the election from these constituencies. The candidate who gets the highest vote wins the election from that constituency. All these winners will be the members of constituent assembly. The advantage of this election procedure is that it is simple and the candidates have direct interface with the people of that constituency making her/him accountable to that constituency. However, this system does not respect the voters of loosing candidates (which actually forms the majority in most cases).

Proportional representation

Under proportional representation system the political party fights for the election instead of the candidate and parties are represented in the constituent assembly in proportion to the vote they receive in the election. Parties with higher proportion will have more representatives, while those with lesser proportion will have lesser number of representatives in the constituent assembly. The main advantage of this system is that, all the votes are given equal importance and are represented. However, under this system since there is no fixed candidates for particular constituency, there is no interaction between the party candidate and the voters and the candidates may be more accountable to the party than to the people of his/her constituency.

Mixed system

Mixed election system is the combination of majority vote and the proportional representation system. In Nepal 240 seat are allocated for majority vote and 240 for proportional representation. Participants were confused about the meaning and process of mixed election system. Various questions were raised by the participants under this system. The resource person then patiently explained this system with examples. He illustrated the ballet paper for majority and proportionate representation. The main advantage of this system is that half the party candidates have to interact with the people to win the election. In addition, parties who receive some votes will be represented in the constituent assembly in proportion to the number of votes they receive in the election. This system less expensive for the candidates.

Miscellaneous system

Other various systems of election has been tried in few countries. Under one system, candidate must receive certain proportion of vote to win the election. If none of the candidate receive the minimum percent of votes, another election is held between those who have received largest number of votes.

Discussion on closed and open list system

The discussion was then held on the closed and open list systems. Mr. Dahal nformed the participants that Nepal is adopting closed list system. He then explained the process of selecting candidates under closed list system. He explained that under the closed list system, the political party has to list their candidates from one to 240 before constituent assembly election. The list of the candidates cannot be changed once it is submitted to the Election Commission. Those candidates listed serially from 1 to 240 are selected on priority basis. Under the open list system, candidates can be declared after the election is held. For proper representation of women, class, caste, backward areas, and other minority groups this system provides more scope.

DAY -2

In the first event, the day started with recapitulation of the previous day's proceedings. Three participants recited a song written by them. The song covered almost all the contents of the pervious day's sessions. The song clearly revealed their understanding of these sessions. In the second event, one of the participants presented summary of the previous days proceedings.

After the recap by the participants a chairperson was chosen to conduct the second day's sessions. Participants were asked to present their group works for plenary discussions. Participants held extensive discussions on each point of group presentation. The resource person then wrapped up the discussion.

Session 3: Special provisions for women in the interim constitution

Continuing the previous day's sessions, the resource person then discussed on the challenges on formation of constituent assembly and listed some important challenges facing Nepal.

1. Disagreement among political parties,
2. Deteriorating law and order situation of the country,
3. Unclear future direction of political parties,
4. Inadequate election laws to make the process smooth,
5. People not fully aware of the purpose and process of constituent assembly election,
6. Unclear policies to represent different groups of the society in the constituent assembly.

Specific rights of women mentioned in the fundamental rights section of the interim constitution

Mr. Dahal then discussed on three different sections of the constitution as; fundamental rights, guiding principles and directive policies. He then discussed the fundamental rights of women stated in the interim constitution of Nepal as follows;

1. No discrimination against women just because of their sex,
2. Reproductive rights and rights to reproductive health,
3. Prohibit all type of physical and mental violence and use of degrading words against women,
4. Equal rights of women on parental property.

The rights mentioned in the fundamental rights section in the constitution cannot by changed by the legislature or the executive body. Acts and rules which are against the spirit of the constitution can be contested in the court. Only the judicial body has the authority to define the connotation of the fundamental rights mentioned in the constitution.

The participants raised various issues regarding the enforcement of law. They gave various examples of cases where women have not been able to get justice due to cost involved, complicated processes, and attitude of male officials. The resource person then gave different examples of court cases where the individual has challenged the government decisions and won. He accepted that there are still discriminatory laws and practices against women with different examples.

Guiding principles of the interim constitution

1. The state will abolish all types of discriminatory acts and laws,
2. Special protection will be given to women on health, education, and employment,
3. The state will make provisions for social security of single women,
4. The state will provide allowance to disabled women,

Guiding principles of the constitution cannot be contested in the court. These principles guide the legislative and the executive bodies to enact acts and laws in line with the spirit of these principles.

Session 4: State building and democracy

Mr. Dev Raj Dahal gave a brief lecture on authority and duties of state under democracy, social transformation, and conflict.

State power
1. Monopoly on political power
2. Monopoly on state revenue
3. Loyalty of citizen towards the state
4. International recognition
5. Monopoly on violence

He explained on each element of state power and stated that the state will be weak in the absence of any one element. Presently the Nepalese government is very weak. It has not been able to enforce the power given to it by the constitution. Contribution of internal revenue is just 12 percent of the GDP, which has forced the state to seek assistance from other countries to run the state. There is very little margin between GDP and population growth rates. Similarly, the state is in transition and state laws are violated by both the state and political parties. The state has not been able to adopt appropriate policy for economic development from the national perspectives.

Obligations of the state

Along with the power to rule, the state has certain obligation towards its peoples. These obligations are;

1. National security
2. Rule of law
3. Giving attention to people's voices
4. Participation of backward areas, different class, caste, and ethnicity in state structure
5. Fulfillment of basic needs of the people
6. Capacity to transform conflict into lasting peace

Presently in Nepal, there is no rule of law, human rights have been violated by both the state and the political parties, all the political parties have taken law in their hands and the government cannot enforce any law. Similarly, the voice of the disadvantaged people is not represented in the national policies; rather, most of the government policies are guided by the conditionalities imposed by donors. For example, Nepal is an agricultural country but it has adopted the policy of industrial promotion due to pressure from international donors. Furthermore, the state has not been able to fulfill the basic needs of the people and the people are getting poorer day by day. Although, there has been attempts to transform the 11 years violent political conflict, it is still continuing in another form, and the state has not been able to manage the residuals of armed conflict.

He then discussed about citizens rights and their duties towards the state. To ensure fundamental rights of citizen (political rights, economic and social rights, cultural rights, and individual rights) a well functioning and unbiased civil societies and cooperation between different political parties, representative organization and people is necessary. However, all these elements are missing in Nepal. Most of the civil societies/organizations are tilted towards one or other political party and thus are not capable enough to make the state accountable towards the citizens. The eight political parties participating in the interim government do not have same view on nation building and are fixated on their own party agenda.

Types of democracy

He stated that feudalism denied rights of women, poor and the slaves. Industrial revolution changed power dynamics in the state and identified two classes in the society, i.e., labor class and the bourgeoisie class. This called for representative democracy where representation of different classes in the society is sought. Recently the world has experienced the information revolution which has globalized the economy, security and different aspects of state activities. This has challenged both the imperialist and communists theories. A nation cannot stand isolated in the present information era. Analysis of world history reveals that before industrial revolution, the state sovereignty was devolved to landlords and rich, after the industrial revolution the state assumed the sovereignty, and in the present world, the sovereignty is vested in the individual.

Leadership

A very brief discussion was held on leadership. Dr. Dahal categorized the political leaders in three groups; a) a state leader/statesman, who has the vision to lead the country, who has thorough knowledge of the history and does not allow history to repeat; b) a leader, who is confined to the party politics and is guided by the interest of the party. He has read the history, but does not take lessons form the history and does not respect the contribution made by past leaders. c) a faction leader, who forms and leads a faction within the party and is always guided by personal interest.

Conflict

He also gave a brief lecture on the type of conflict and identified three main sources of conflict. Each source was elaborated and discussed.

1. Geo-political - the country's internal politics and policies are influenced by foreign countries.
2. Structural - the state is not able to give equal opportunity to women, disadvantages groups, and different class of people living in the country.
3. Latent - the state cannot give social justice and the elected representative can not formulate acts and laws to implement the provisions of constitution.

He added that conflict arises if there is imbalance between rights and duties, which is missing in state governance and political parties in Nepal. Conflict cannot be eliminated, it can be managed or transformed. Each country has its unique sources of conflict which should be managed by the people themselves. Cause produces effect, therefore, cause should be identified and addressed to mange conflict. He stated that the major cause of 11 year long violent conflict in Nepal was the inability of the then government to respect voices of the people and include the concerns of the excluded in the national policies. All the political parties, citizen and the state should uphold democratic values and principles to avoid conflict.

Revolution and people's movement

Responding to the questions of the participants on the difference between revolution and people's movement, he discussed on successive people's movement in Nepal from 2007. He refuted the use of the term revolution for 2007 political change in Nepal and used the term movement. He explained that revolution brings complete transformation in structure, system, and society which was lacking in the 2007 movement. He gave examples of French and Chinese revolutions, where one class of people overthrew the regime and took over the state power. He listed some important features of revolution and people's movement as follows;

Revolution

  • One class of people takes over the regime by overthrowing the ruling class,
  • Breaks the tradition,
  • Brings qualitative change in all aspect of national life,
  • Brings complete changes in executive structure, national policies, and context.

Movement

  • Collaboration between the old ruling class and the new state power created by the movement,
  • Change is limited to few areas of state structure. There is also a possibility of change of regime only.

Handbook of democracy

A Handbook of Democracy published by FES was distributed to the participants and Dr. Dahal elaborated on each section of the Handbook. National and international examples were used to explain the subjects mentioned in the handbook. Major areas dealt in the handbook are;

  • Meaning of democracy and its elements
  • Human rights
    • Citizen's rights
    • Political rights
    • Economic and social rights
    • Cultural rights
  • Rule of law
  • Power seperation
    • Legislature
    • Executive
    • Judiciary
  • Participation of all class and caste in state running
  • Election and its norms
  • Functions of political parties
  • Meaning of civil society and its obligations towards people and state
  • Meaning of public sphere and its importance in strengthening democracy
  • Political culture
  • Good governance
  • Globalization and national economy

Session 5: Selected indicators on status of women and gender issues that need to be addressed by the Constituent Assembly

Ms. Phulmaya Ranabhat conducted the first part of the session. She discussed on the provisions for women in the interim constitution and the discriminatory laws against women in the present interim constitution. A booklet was distributed to the participants which highlighted the discriminatory laws in the interim constitution. She held a brief discussion on the booklet and identified some of the important women's issues that need to be addressed by the constituent assembly.

A quiz paper was then distributed to the participants by Dr. Meena Acharya on status of women in Nepal and the present national and local political scenario. The purpose of the quiz was to widen the horizon of the participants while working for women rights. The message was that for the women to reach the leadership position, she should be able to understand the political, social and economic context of the whole country along with women related issues. She also highlighted that, it was difficult for women to hold the leadership position as compared to men due to her reproductive duties accorded by nature, unless her reproductive roles are facilitated by the state and the society.

Selected indicators on status of women

After discussion on the quiz, a handsout was distributed to the participants which contained some indicators on the economic, educational, health status of women in Nepal, along with disaggregation by caste and ethnicity. She explained that 2001 census revealed improvement in literacy rate of women as compared to 1991. However, she argued that the increase in literacy was much higher among men as compared to women. Similarly, she also revealed that the gap between men and women has widened at the higher levels of education. On the health sector, there has been some improvement in selected indicators but still much less as compared to other South East Asian Countries. She added that since women also has to look after her children; her status will not be improved until the status of children is improved too.

Discriminatory laws against women in the interim constitution

Dr. Acharya briefly discussed on the discriminatory laws against women in the present interim constitution (Ref. Annex 11 for provisions for women in interim constitution). All the participants agreed that one of the most important issues was discrimination in citizenship distribution. This led to the conclusion that women are still treated as unequal citizens by the nation. A hands out was then distributed to the participants on the women's issues to be incorporated in the new constitution. A brief discussion was held on each issue identified in the hands out.

Dr. Acharya's stated that, "for the women to hold the leadership position, she should be able to raise the issue of the whole society instead of taking the single mandate of women. However, as a women leader, she should pay adequate attention to women specific issues".

Ms. Meena Kharel also shared her experiences as a social worker. She shared that it is difficult to translate the spirit of constitution and laws in practices. She then advised the participants to advocate the women's issues at the disctict level in addition to their regular job as a social worker.

Social security of women

Discussion was then held on importance of social security for women. Social security is not only the special provision made by the state targeting the old, disabled, and the socially backward classes and groups. Dr. Acharya explained that social security should be the liability of the state towards its citizen. Some of the elements of social security were discussed as follows;

  • Freedom form violence
  • Old age allowance, with specific attention to women
  • Health insurance/rights to basic health provisions and reproductive health
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Security in employment and income
  • Equal wage for equal work
  • Rights to work in the healthy environment
  • Equal opportunity to all in education
  • Food security
  • Appropriate security of children

Action plan

Participants from each district were asked to make an action plan to transfer the knowledge they have gained in the training (Ref. Annex 12 for action plan) to their colleagues and communities.

Training/seminar closing

Mr. Kashi Raj Dahal thanked the participants for their active participation and remarked that their enquiries were all relevant in the present context. He then thanked TPAMF and SAHAVAGI for organizing the seminar, and all those who have been involved in the training/seminar formally and informally. Dr. Dev Raj Dahal also thanked the participants for their active participation and TPAMF and SAHAVAGI for collaboration and organization of the events. He hoped that the participants will be able to transfer the knowledge they have gained in the training to their communities in their respective work areas. He hoped to organize such events to similar participants in future as well.

In her closing remark Dr. Meena Acharya said that, it has been a long and untiring struggle against gender discrimination. These efforts have born fruits and many discriminatory laws have been abolished and some fundamental rights of women have been guaranteed in the interim constitution. But there are still some discriminatory laws and practices against women, which means that the struggle is not yet finished. New generation of women like you are now prepared to take women's issues at the village level. She thanked FES for collaborating with TPMF and SAHAVAGI in such an important issue and hoped to continue this collaboration in future. She also thanked the resource persons for their expert views and valuable insights on constitution and state building.

Representatives from the participants thanked FES, TPAMF, and SAHAVAGI for organization such an important event. They thanked the resource persons for their valuable inputs and remarked that they are much clearer now on the meaning of constitution and what and why of constituent assembly election as also many important women's issues that needs to be addressed by new constitution. They said that they are now more confident to take up the women's issues in the society and the coming elections.

Observations by organizer

  1. Selection of participants was appropriate as they are working as a catalyst in their respective areas,
  2. Participant became clearer on the meaning of constitution, process of constituent assembly election, and women's issues that needs to be addressed by new constitution,
  3. They seemed capable and determined to transfer the knowledge they have gained in the training,
  4. The participants have prepared action plans to transfer the knowledge, therefore, a follow up plan should be made to ensure organization of such events,
  5. FES should invite these participants on events organized in their respective districts as a follow up and as an exercise in furthering their knowledge,
  6. FES should organize such events at district level to prepare a critical mass of such social workers

Outcome of the group work

First event

Q1) Why is it necessary to formulate a constitution and what are the important issues that needs to be addressed by the constitution?

Presentation by Group 1:

  • Constitution is necessary to guarantee fundamental rights of citizen
  • Equal rights for men and women
  • Guarantee the rights of dalits, janajati and the backward groups
  • Priority should be given according to the geographic condition
  • Preserve religion and culture
  • Guarantee rights for education, health and social security

Q2) How can we increase the participation of the people in the constituent assembly election?

Presentation by Group 2:

  • Improvement in law and order situation
  • Awareness raising programs (door to door, public meetings, training, seminar, seminars, etc)
  • Systematic listing of people above 18 years of age
  • Equal opportunity to all citizen to participate in the election process
  • Clear instruction to the voters about swastic stamp
  • Arrangement of free and fair election
  • Selection of honest and capable candidates
  • Discourage corruption in the election
  • Make the voters aware that the constituent assembly election is for their benefit with special attention to deprived and backward groups and classes

Q3) What are the major issues on women which needs to be addressed by the constitution that will ensure equal right of women both in law and in practice?

Presentation by Group 3:

  • Equal wage for similar work
  • Access to education
  • Opportunity in employment
  • Provision of maternal leave to men
  • Abolition of dowry system
  • Increase in the participation of women in political parties
  • Representation of women in decision making positions at all levels
  • Provision of breast feeding time for mother with small children
  • Provision of one day leave to pregnant women staff for pregnancy check
  • Provision of gender sensitization program in every office
  • Abolition of discriminatory laws
  • Inclusion of name of both father and mother in bio-data
  • Compulsory enforcement of acts and laws
  • Formulation of separate laws for women, children and backward groups
  • Effort by the government to abolish discriminatory practice in the society
  • Equal rights to access and control on parental property
  • Rights of freedom
  • Abolition of Chhaupadi and Jari, and Deuki practices prevalent in Far West region
  • Access to health facilities
  • Provision of separate constituencies for women in election
  • Provision of issue of citizenship certificate in the name of mothers
  • Formation of pressure group to implement the provisions for women made in the constitution
  • Abolition of women trafficking

Second event

Q1) Why is constitution formulated? What are the important issues that need to be addressed by the constitution? And what changes needs to done in the present state structure for equal participation and representation of all citizen?

Presentation by Group 1:

  • Determine the state structure
  • Define system of governance (legislature, executive, and judiciary)
  • Guarantee fundamental rights of citizen based on the geographical, religious, political, and cultural context
  • Guarantee participatory and democratic government
  • Guarantee lasting peace
  • Proportional representation of backward areas and groups, minority, and disable

Q2) What different type of exploitation and violence against women is prevalent in Nepal? What fundamental rights should be provisioned for women in the new constitution for their overall development?

Presentation by Group 2:

Types of exploitation and violence against women

  • Household violence and social practices such as, dowry, chaupadi, child marriage, polygamy, girls trafficking, etc.
  • Discrimination between son and daughter in education and in access to literacy
  • 33% women are not still represented in national politics
  • Labour exploitation and no rights on parental property

Provision to be made in the new constitution

  • Equal rights of son and daughter in parental property
  • Guarantee 51% representation of women in politics
  • Abolition of social practices such as, dowry, chaupadi, child marriage, polygamy, girls trafficking, etc.
  • Guarantee of social security
  • Abolition of practice of discriminating daughter against son in education
  • Abolition of caste system

Q3) How can we increase the participation of voters in the constituent assembly election including women?

Presentation by Group 3:

  • Raise political awareness among women
  • Raise awareness on the rights of women
  • Organize seminars at organizational and group level
  • Make provision to increase women representation from 33% to 50% in the constituent assembly
  • Organize awareness campaigns on gender equity at the village level
  • Organize mass awareness campaign

In addition to the points raised by group two, following points were suggested by the participants to increase participation of voters in the election.

  • Improvement in law and order situation
  • Simple election procedur
  • Awareness on election process
  • Arrangement to take the disabled up to the voting booth
  • Voting booth to be set up in accessible location
  • Create trust on the election process
  • Selection of honest and capable candidates

Action plans for rolling out

Dharchula District

  • Organize staff meeting at the respective organizations and orient all the staff about Constituent Assembly and women's issues that needs to be addressed by the new Constitution,
  • Transfer the knowledge gained in the training to the community women in the monthly meeting,
  • Organize village and tole level meetings,
  • Coordinate with other organizations to organize such meetings,

Dailekh District

Date
Activity
Where
How
July 2007 Awareness raising program about Constituent Assembly and voting rights
  • SOSEC Office
  • Different VDC of Dailekh
  • Ten working area of SOSEC
  • Health Post
  • Local CBOs

By organising

  • Training
  • Seminar
  • Door to door visit
  • Street drama
  • Local song competition
  • Group Discussion
  • Staff meeting
  • Interaction with other organisation

Achham District

1. Organize discussion programs in Gramin Vikas Kendra
2. Organize interaction program at the VDC level

Rolpa District

Activity
Where

Share the knowledge with organization members.

Organize orientationmeeting at the village level

  • Respective organisation,
  • Public places
  • Neighboring VDCs

Baglung District

Activity
Why
When (2007)
Where
How
Transfer the knowledge on Voting and Citizen rights To make the staff of our organisation aware Within the month of July Office By organising orientation meeting at the respective organisations
Conduct awareness raising seminars at the group level To make group member aware of their rights and to make informed choice in the coming election Within the month of July Burtiwang, Amala, Chaur, Titayang, Panyupatta With the help of local CBOs
Prepare a lok song about constituent assembly and give it to local radio and TV channel To make the people aware about constituent Assembly June and July Baglung With the help of district level organization

Chitwan District

What
Where
When (2007)
How
Interaction Program Respective organizations and political parties Within the month of July Through participation of staff of respective organization
Conduct orientation/ training Bharatpur Municipality Within the month of July One person from each ward. Total 14 persons
Conduct orientation/ training Municipality of Ratna Nagar Within the month of July One person from each ward. Total 13 persons
Conduct orientation/ training At any accessible area for 18 VDCs Within the month of July One person from each VDC
One person from each VDCs At any accessible area for 18 VDCs Within the month of July One person from each VDC

Nawalparasi District

  • Share the knowledge with the member of our organization
  • Organize seminars and discussions at each VDC of Nawalparasi District
  • Organize meeting with local clubs, CBOs, mothers groups and other village level organization.

Kailali District

What
Where
When (2007)
How/Who
Women's education about constituent assembly Respective organizations of the participants team Within the month of July Organize staff meeting in respective organizations
Women's education about constituent assembly Mukta Kamaiya Camps (Urma,Chaumala,Shreepur) Within the month of July Organize interaction programs with women groups, students, Dalit, and other general voters
Women's education about constituent assembly Sarasawati Single women group, Hariyali Groups, Women Ekta groups Within the months of July and August Organize interaction programs with women groups, students, Dalit, and other general voters
Women's education about constituent assembly Tharu Student's Society, Dhangadi Within the month of August Organize interaction programs with women groups, students, Dalit, and other general voters
Women's education about constituent assembly Phulbari VDC Within the month of August Organize interaction programs with women groups, students, Dalit, and other general voters
Women's education about constituent assembly Yuwa Jagaran Club Within the month of August Organize interaction programs with women groups, students, Dalit, and other general voters

Dhanusa District

Activity
Where
When
How/Who
Discussion program Janakpur Within the month of July Organize staff meetings at respective organizations
Discussion program Sirsiya Within the month of July Organize village level meeting of community groups
Discussion program Lohana Within the month of August Organize village level meeting of community groups
Discussion program In five VDCs Within the month of August Organize village level meeting of community groups

Kapilbastu District

What
When (2007)
Where
How
Awareness raising program on Constituent Assembly and women's issues to be incorporate in the new constitution August VDCs, Municipality Organize public meetings by coordinating with district level organizations
 
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