Nepal’s CPN (UML)’s Vice President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been elected as the first female president of Nepal on Wednesday, the first time in the history of the patriarchy-backed Himalayan nation to grace the title of head of state to any woman.
Bhandari’s election as the state head for five years has been taken positively across the country where women comprise more than half of the country’s 28 million populations but still treated as second-class citizens.
“My mother has gone through a long struggle to reach over this post. It’s a very proud moment. As a good mother, I am confident that she will be a good president who will play a proactive and positive role to take the nation toward prosperity”, Ushakiran Bhandari, the elder daughter of the new president, told Xinhua exclusively.
Her election as the ceremonial president of this small South Asian country by defeating a male candidate has raised a hope over the uplift of Nepalese women who have been struggling high for equal existence.
“A capable woman in the position of head of state is really a welcoming move. It proves that women existence is acceptable and provides a chance for the marginalized to rise from their roots. It’s a revolution in South Asia”, Nirmala Sharma, a senior woman journalist, told Xinhua.
It is to be noted that Bhandari has been chosen for the post of president not only for being a woman or a widow of veteran communist leader Madan Bhandari but she is well-known for her own capabilities and leadership quality in Nepalese politics.
She joined the mainstream politics by winning the parliamentary election in 1994, defeating former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, right after the death of her husband in a road accident in 1993.
She has become the only head of state in South Asia at the moment. According to a latest study on “Women in International Politics” by a political communication researcher Ewa Widlak, among 178 heads of state in the world, only 13 are women.
Bhandari’s role is notable as she is the one who lobbied and tabled a bill in the parliament to ensure the 33 percent representation of women in all state organs, the highest in the whole Asia.
The present Constituent Assembly turned Legislature Parliament has 197 women, almost 33 percent of the total seats. The striking point is these women MPs represent diverse ethnicity and culture representing wide geography.
On the other side, Bhandari has also gone through some criticism by speaking against the provision of recently promulgated constitution to ensure citizenship through name of mothers.