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Inter-action Program on Nation Building, Constitution and Women's Participation

Organized by Modern Kanya Multiple College (MKMC), Supported by Friedrich Elbert Stiftung (FES- Nepal)

-Krishna Prasad Bhandari

22 December 2007, Kathmandu


Inter-Action program was held here in Kathmandu to discuss the issues relating to women's role in nation building and their active participation in every tier of state apparatus. Similarly, it could identify the root causes of their social, political and economic backwardness and mainstream them addressing the prevailing obstacles.

Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat was the Chief Guest of the program. Honorable law maker and ex- Minister Ishwor Pokharel, another law maker Ganesh Shah, Honorable Election Commissioner Usha Nepal, Secretary of Government of Nepal Binda Hada, Prof. Harindra Thapaliya, were other special guests present in the program. Similarly, teachers, lawyers, journalists, social activists, students and other reputed individuals were also present in the program. Minister Mahat inaugurated the program kindling the lamp. Prof. Ram Prasad Dahal, Chairman of the College presided over the program. Student representative, Anjali Khanal welcome all the participants of the program.

In the beginning of the program, the written Message from the Honorable Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, wishing for the successful completion of the program, was read out. Koirala wrote in his best wishes that he felt sad not being able to present in the program still assured to be with women in their sorrows and happiness.

Minister Mahat said, "Every citizen is equal in the eyes of laws irrespective to their caste, religion, gender, and economic status and so on. However, this 'color-blind' policy seems flawed in the case where disadvantaged and marginalized groups of the society can not contend with others equally. Hence, positive discrimination is must to bring these groups into the mainstream". He exposed the bitter reality the best and bright new blood doesn't want to join neither in politics nor in the civil service. Nation is not a dinner table rather requires tenacity of all the stakeholders. Social movement is necessary to come out from this impediment in the country like Nepal. "Although something has been done for the betterment of women's situation in Nepal, their empowerment is possible only with the collective effort of both the genders. Reservation is not the panacea but we should be clever enough for capacity building," said Hada. Similarly, Prof. Thapaliya shaded light on the invisibility of women even if they occupy more than fifty percent of the total population. They have not got chance to participate equally in the discourse of their concern. "Gender insensitivity among women themselves has fueled to make the situation worse. Even though we have got 33% reservation, there we still lack the supply of proficient aspirant in the market to meet the demand. Law Maker Ishwor Pokharel articulated his view that the new constitution should be drafted by people's representative with equal participation of both the genders. Further he said, "If the political leaders show their indifference towards women's issues, women should raise their collective voices to sensitize them". Prof. Ram Prasad Dahal talked on the importance of women education and expressed his pledge to impart quality education to women for which he has spent more than two decades in this field. At the end of the first session, student Sandhya Sharma conferred souvenir to the chief guest and other special guests.

In the second session of the program, Political Analyst Dev Raj Dahal, Constitutional Expert Kashi Raj Dahal and Women Activists duo Sabita Sapkota and Sharmila Koirala presented their working papers on "Modern Nation Building: Present Scenario of Nepal", "Women's Participation in Constitution" and "Women's Participation in Nation Building" respectively.

While presenting his working paper, Dev Raj Dahal explained the present fragile situation of Nepalese state machinery. There, he recognized the erosion in monopoly of state authority, competition on violence increment, emergence of patronage culture, erosion in policy supremacy and failure to carry out the objective of 'good governance'. Only the political statesmanship and visionary leader can salvage the nation from this quandary He emphasized on democratization within political parties and civil societies that steer the leadership be selfless and motivates towards civic accountability. Political groups have not established the democracy founded on gender and social equity, and inter-generation justice yet. Mr. Dahal affirmed that co-working culture among all the stake holders is indispensable for the institutionalization of welfare state, constitutional stability, development, democracy and peace. State, all the time should labor to achieve the goal of good governance. Besides, the line agency of the government should be pro-active for the effectual enforcement of state policy, law and rule. Citizen of the nation should realize the presence of their government through the services which directly concern their day to day life.

In the course of presenting his paper Constitution Expert Kashi Raj Dahal focused on the scope of constitution, modalities of drafting constitution, main agenda of women empowerment and ways to accomplish these objectives. As the constitution is the fundamental law of the nation, it affects the entire human activities. Therefore, the representation of all the stake holders is unavoidable while documenting it. In this pretext, women who occupy more than 50% of the total population should have opportunity to play the constructive role making their involvement in this effort. They should not be provided with only 'one-day democracy' to cast their vote.

Mrs. Sabita Sapkota and Mrs. Sharmila Koirala, while making their joint presentation explained that gender issues should not be underestimated in nation building procedure. Nation can not develop if its women populace is uneducated, backward, unequal in the eyes of law and victimized with superstitions and conservative social practices. They prioritized that unless women's political, educational, economic, health condition, cultural and other dynamisms are not provided with due considerations by the state, it can not enjoy the prosperity. They presented the facts and figures portraying the involvement of women in different quarter of state apparatus and found inadequate compared to their total population. They focused to change the patriarchal social prototype, improve social orthodox thoughts, political vow, and positive discrimination, and establish anti-exploitation nexus, timely and accessible justice. In addition, nation should be pro-active for women empowerment and holistic development.

After the presentation of working papers, Dr. Manju Dahal, Kalpana Karki, Shova Ghimire, Nava Raj Dahal and other participants of the program put their queries to the respective presenters about the presented papers. Presenters, in turn, contented their curiosities mentioned on the work papers.

Conclusion:

  1. Participation of all the citizens is necessary for the holy mission of nation building. People can enjoy their rights only if the nation is strong. For this, strong economy, qualitative education and successful political leadership are the pre-requisites.
  2. Constitution is the fundamental law of the nation, so, in the process of documenting constitution, people's comprehensive partaking is crucial. All the political leaders should confirm their tenacity to draft the new constitution through constitutional assembly. Or else, there may raise the question in trust and recognition of the political leaders.
  3. Political, economic and social rights of the women should be constitutionally assured. For this purpose, women's outstanding participation is essential in the course of constitution formulation. Political milieu should be friendly for this objective.
  4. Exploitation and violence against women should be over. Women's partaking and representation in the nation building is indispensable through women empowerment.
  5. Women education is precondition for the application of women rights.
  6. Lastly, the continuance of this sort of inter-action program, seminar, and work shops are crucial to penetrate the prevailing quandary in the nation.
 
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