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Newly Endorsed Bill and Women Representation Issue

On June 14, 2007, the Legislature-Parliament, endorsed the Constituent Assembly Members Election Bill – a key electoral legislation. The newly passed Bill apportions proportional seats to women, Dalit, Madhesis, Ethnic Minorities and others for the 240 seats put aside for proportional representation (PR) -based elections during the CA. Of the total 497 seats of CA, 240 each have been earmarked for first-past-the-post (FPTP) and PR based elections. The remaining 17 members will be nominated by the Prime Minister as per cabinet decision.
In the 240 seats allocated for PR-based elections, the new Act states that 50 percent will be given for women in terms of total candidates. Equally, for Madhesi men and women, 15.6 percent each have been set aside. For Dalits men and women, 6.5 percent each have been allocated and for Ethnic Minorities men and women 18.9 percent each have been allocated. Two percent each have been allocated for men and women, correspondingly, of backward region and 15.1 percent each have been set aside for men and women from ‘other’ category. The PR-based elections will follow the closed (list) system model.
Response towards the Provision
The Interim Parliament univocally endorsed the Bill but here is a serious concern over the ensured provision of 50 percent women representation. Well, the Bill has talked and ensured about women’s 50 percent (120 seats) representation categorically from different groups for PR (240 seats) based elections but what about in FPTP based system? When calculating 120 seats in total of 480 seats, there will just be the representation of overall 25% of women in CA. Besides, the Bill has given a certain level of freedom to the political parties while preparing lists of their candidates under closed list system. They have 10 % (less or more) of elbow room to select the candidates on their own. How can we be assured with the political parties that they will ensure 50 percent women representation in CA as we all have the past experiences on their unrivaled nature of sayings and doings?
As we all know that on May 30, 2006 the people-power-built parliament had passed the provision of at least 33% women’s representation at all layers of state mechanism but it seems that by making the provision of (even 50 percent) women’s representation on PR based elections only, women’s equal participation rights have been curtailed down.
Providing reservation designed to have more women in politics and government may not have been the magic formula for more balanced political representation, but it has certainly been a key first step in many cases. This time also the political leaders could not show their acceptability on the equal rights of women. When there is a time of balance on equal rights, our political leaders have always been lagging behind on certain criteria. We don’t know what our leaders think over women and their equal representation rights but women equal representation right is inherited right and that should be ensured by the state. We need to build a strong support system for women and for that the provision has to be made strongly not to be made as an installment basis. If the election system is going to be happened under mixed electoral system then how can we push aside the women groups in other part of the elections? Can’t we term it as a paradox of orthodox society?

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