04.07.2017

Citizen empowerment after Nepal’s first local elections in 20 years

Beni and Syangja (Nepal) – In two consecutive seminars organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal, citizens discuss state-building at the local level in the young democracy.

  • Local representatives from different political parties at civic education seminar, during the inaugural speech by Chandra D. Bhatta of FES Nepal, 14-17 June 2017 by FES / FES Nepal

Ms. Pavitra Raut, advocate and gender analyst interacting with the participants at her session on gender and social inclusion, 14-17 June 2017 by FES / FES Nepal

“Often we forget that rights and duties come hand in hand,” said Rajan Prasad Paudel, Chief District Officer of Myagdi district, in the inaugural session of the first two-day seminar on civic education, held in the light of the recently concluded election.

The objectives of the programs, held in the districts of Beni and Syangja on 14‐17 June, were to create awareness among the local people of the constitution and the local government, and to highlight the impact of gender and social inclusion on state-building. Each seminar ended with a discussion with recently elected local representatives about the challenges and opportunities of this long-awaited democratic transition.

"As power gets redistributed to the local wards again, political education of the citizens is an important step in creating awareness"

With the first local elections in 20 years held just three weeks ago, the gap between the government and the people in Nepal is still wide. “Programs like this help the people to be aware,” said Sudarshan Shrestha, Local Development Officer and chair of the program. “They become motivated to think for the betterment of the society, which ultimately helps in state-building.”

The emerging empowerment of local levels plays a vital role in the country’s ongoing democratization and modernization. “Resulting out of a vicious cycle of poverty, the momentum of solidarity and social cohesion is weakening in our society,” said Chandra D. Bhatta, program officer at FES Nepal. “Until now, democracy in Nepal has been far from the people.” As power gets redistributed to the local wards again, political education of the citizens is an important step in creating awareness and to realize the democratic dividend.

"With a longstanding experience in civic education activities FES supports the exchange on issues of democratization and development in the local communities" 

On day two of each seminar, Ms. Pabitra Raut, an advocate and lecturer at the Nepal Law Campus, highlighted the importance of including women in decision-making processes. “Women empowerment does not require big bulky principles,” she said. “Women are financially dependent on men not because they don’t do any work, but because their work does not transform into monetary value.” The floor discussion emphasized the recent educational malfunction which needs to be addressed, with particular respect to the fall-off in girl school attendance between primary schools in the community, where they are well represented, and secondary school, where their proportion is far lower. 

FES Nepal is conducting up to 20 civic education activities all over the country to discuss local government and democracy. “With our longstanding experience in civic education activities we support the exchange on issues of democratization and development in the local communities,” says Annette Schlicht, Resident Representative of FES Nepal. “Additionally, we as FES draw on the discussions to feed the results into our high-level roundtables here in Kathmandu. Thus, we can link the local and national levels.” ###

 

For more information about the work of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Nepal contact the office team at fes(at)fesnepal.org.

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