Loktantra: Civic Education and Women Rights
One-day seminar jointly organized by the Modern
Kanya Multiple College and FES in Kathmandu
07 March 2015
Prepared by Ritu Raj Subedi
Democracy and civic education. Yes, they have symbiotic ties.
For a robust and functional democracy, the role of civic education
is uppermost. Civic education enlightens citizens about their
rights and duties in a democratic dispensation. Only active and
conscious citizens are capable to live up to the ideals of democracy.
Informed and enlightened citizens rightly exercise their ballots
during the election. They are not carried away by the demagogue
and fraudsters. Their democratic insights enable them to choose
right, honest and competent candidates and the victory of such
people strengthen the credentials of parliament that formulates
vital laws of the land. Passive and gullible people succumb to
the hollow promises of politicians and their election to the sacrosanct
elected body hardly give a right direction to the nation as the
dubious politicians are often guided by the vested interests and
narrow circle of elitist politics. And civic education serves
as an antidote to amoral and parochial politics. It also works
as a deterrent to the regional and ethnic populism.
In a similar manner, civic education helps promote women rights.
As civic education engineers democracy from the below, this
also offers an intellectual weapon for the fairer sex to advance
their cause. It is a common fact that Nepali society is characterized
by entrenched gender discrimination. Civic education is the
education about enlightenment and perfection of good life of
citizens. Enlightenment values are the keys to citizens' participation
in life-situation and self-determination and decision-making.
As the civic education transforms an individual from people
to citizen, the women folks can make optimal use of new found
awareness to liberate themselves from bondage, economic dependency
and various forms of minute gender disparities. A confident
and competent woman is unlikely to endure domestic violence
and fall prey to rapists.
Realising the role of civic education in promoting Loktantra
and women rights, the Modern Kanya Multiple College and Friedrich
Ebert Stiftung, Nepal office organized one-day seminar 'Loktantra:
Civic Education and Women Rights' in the capital that also marked
the International Working Women Day of the year. Attended by
large number curious girl students, the event saw women politicians,
lawmakers and scholars putting forth their views on civic education
and its role in enhancing the women rights within a democratic
Minister for Energy Radha Gyawali called for strengthening
the women movement to ensure the women's access to health, education
and employment opportunities.
She said that existing social structures were responsible for
the plight of women. "The male-dominated society from the
very beginning instills an idea into us that women are weak
creature. We should do away with this false consciousness. We
need to end also a situation in which the males give and females
receive. The women should work hard to be bona fide citizen
of the nation."
The women are fighting for the rights to recognize her offspring
through her surname.
"When we are pregnant, we are not in a position to work
on par with the males. So the women need special provision to
ensure their right."
She said that the present government had taken historic initiatives
to develop the energy sector.
"The Power Development Agreement and Power Trade Agreement
with the Indian companies are major gains of the present government.
These have opened the door for the development of energy sector
in Nepal," said Minister Gyawali.
Gyawali said that a section of media had disseminated fabricated
news about her decisions and works at the ministry.
Chairman of Administrative Court Kashi Raj Dahal said that
it was only through the civic education that democratic values
and norms were translated into practice.
"By merely incorporating the rights of people in the constitution
is not sufficient. They should be fully realized in the daily
life and this is possible through the civic education. Even
the women have to rise above their gender boundary and try to
become the citizens," he added.
He said that the people had to learn to take pride in their
culture. We need the students, who want to study history and
Stating that democracy is the composite of equality, liberty,
fraternity and opportunity, local elections renew democracy
at the grassroots.
Civic education boosts reconciliation: Dahal
FES, Nepal office head Dev Raj Dahal said that civic education
helps acquire maturity, make critical judgment; promote democracy
and active citizenship; build national identity and close gender
and intergenerational gaps.
"Civic education is the education about enlightenment
and perfection of good life of citizens. Enlightenment values
are the keys to citizens' participation in life-situation and
self-determination and decision-making. Internal vigilance of
every person seeks to bridge the gap between knowledge and wisdom
and order and free will," he said.
"Civic education is a praxis- use of critical knowledge
to shape positive attitude towards the nation and polity and
create norms that are socially binding," he added.
He further stated that civic education is important for a society
like Nepal for reconciliation of various identities.
"The will and capacity of Nepali women for social change
largely rests on building capacity for becoming equal citizen
and closing the gender gaps in every sphere of life.
The transmission of civic knowledge to many generations of
citizens can give impetus to those native civic values of giving,
charity, healing and safeguarding social peace lying dormant
underneath the dialectics of central power, build social ties
and engineer democracy from below. It seeks to foster normative
consensus on democratic values across the political parties
of various hues and repair state-citizenship ties," Dahal
said in the conclusion.
Lawmaker Om Devi Shrestha Malla said that practical education
is better than the learning by rote. "Loktantra should
guarantee education to all citizens. Civic education help develop
critical thinking so as to discern between good and bad things.
There is the need for enhancing the women access to politics
to end discrimination against women."
Programme officer at the FES Office CD Bhatta said that the
male-dominated structures needed to be changed to ensure women
"There is the need for balancing between right and duty.
Something is amiss in our education system. It is not fulfilling
the need of the nation. It is essential to link it with culture
and tradition," added Bhatta.
Putting his views on freedom and equality, Bhatta said that
the rich prefer freedom while the poor go for equality.
He said that the East and the West vastly differ in their societal
and cultural values. Therefore, it is not wise to impose western
values here blindly. "Our political system has failed to
embrace the local cultural values. It could not abide by rajdharma."
Stating that no any religion in the world promotes violence
against women, Bhatta said that the politics has turned into
a profession, not a means of service to the people and community.
Professor Harindra Thapaliya said that women should be self-confidence
and mentally strong. "Capacity building is key to women
Chairman of the management committee of Multiple Kannya College
Ram Prasad Dahal said that education was the key to the women
empowerment and the women must reach decision-making and implementing
levels to realize the various rights of women.
"The women should be strong enough within their own houses
before they wage a battle for equality outside the home,"
Journalist Anita Bindu said that women representation in the
state mechanism is very negligible and, therefore, the 33 per
cent provision for women participation in the every organ of
the state needs to be implemented effectively.
Acting Secretary Jeewan Prabha Lama said that the rise of women
employees to the upper echelon of bureaucracy is often blocked
by the patriarchic mindset. "The more you are, more you
are empowered. So the women need to be equipped with information."
Education key to women upliftment
Journalist Neha Sharma had presented her working paper on 'Loktantra:
Education and Women Rights' in the seminar where a host of speakers
put forth their views on the women rights and civic education.
Summary of Sharma's paper: In order to end women dependency
on men, imparting education to the former is necessary. This
will improve socio-economic conditions of women, thereby ensuring
gender equality. It is also essential to increase women access
to education to bring an end to blind beliefs, superstitions,
dowry system, unemployment and chhaupadi tradition. Education
and women are interlinked with each other. Until the women become
educated, their rights are not guaranteed. Many national and
international legislation and laws have been devised in the
favour of women but many women are not aware of this fact largely
owing to lack of consciousness. There has been dominance of
men in the decision-making as women are less educated.
Loktantra, education and women rights are complementary with
each other. Without Loktantra, we cannot imagine press freedom,
right to expression, civil rights and federalism. Until and
unless civil rights are ensured, the slogan of equal rights
and women rights are merely confined to slogans. A rule of law
is important to ensure the civil, political, economic, cultural
and social rights. It is imperative to establish inclusive state
with human rights and Loktantra as its core values. This requires
that political parties should bring an end to the current transition
through consensus and co-work. Without the participation Nepalese
women that make up of 51 per cent of total population, it is
impossible to carry economic development and restore a lasting
peace. Both the males and females need to foster a feeling of
mutual harmony, not the embittered rivalry, to move the nation
on the path of development by institutionalizing Loktantra.
The state should ensure equal educational opportunity for the
women so that they will not leave the schools in the middle
of their studies. If every house takes pride in women education,
this will be indeed a big change in the society.
Holding the floor, Sharmila Koirala said that the country had
seen the opening of myriad schools and colleges to cater for
the need of modern education but moral or spiritual education
was missing there. "Moral education has been replaced by
the modern education and we stopped teaching history in the
Anju Karki said that the women had fallen behind their male
counterpart owing to discriminatory laws and policies. "The
state needs to devise stringent laws to punish the rapists so
that violence against women would decline substantially."
The one-day seminar also endorsed a seven-point resolution
1. To respect male and female equally,
2. To play a role from respective places to respect and instill
faith in Loktantra,
3. To forge unity among women to ensure women rights in the
constitution and laws,
4. To work to be good citizen through the civic education and
by translating the values of Loktantra into practice,
5. The students and teachers of Modern Multiple College to present
themselves as role model in the society and conduct accordingly,
and engage in the clean-up campaign in the college,
6. Teachers should teach civic education in the college once
in a month or two,
7. The students show the commitment and loyalty to the nation,
respect the seniors and take pride in culture.