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‘No greed, no irregularities’: ethics of women ward chairs in Jhapa, Eastern Nepal

Santosh Sharma, JHAPA: Jhapa, a district in State 1 is composed of 15 local levels and 131 wards. Among these, only three women were elected to such posts in the latest local level elections.
Kamala Thulung (Bhadrapur-3), Pabitra Pathak (Birtamod-9) and Roshani Shiwakoti (Haldibari-3) are those local level leaders who said they were committed to proving their strength and competency by breaking the notion that women were not for serving in public posts.
They claimed that good governance and development along with guarantee of women empowerment is always their priority. They always treat service seekers with courtesy.
Pathak said the post of treasurer should be mandatorily given to a woman while forming a local consumer’s committee and her signature is a must in the banking transactions. Any committee failing to secure the 33 percent women representation is not recognized. This is the rule of the ward she is the chair.
Shiwakoti who had earned the identity of a ‘woman with courage’ for her move to act against the social ill as gambling in the society said she was committed to the causes of women. She in the past had encouraged local women to rally against such bad practices and attack on the gambling den. But people over 70 years of age are allowed to participate in gambling for a fun and time-pass.
A significant portion of ward-level budget has been released for road, education and women’s empowerment projects, according to her. She recently faced an attempted physical assault from a man for her rejection to recommend a citizenship for documents bypassing the due process.
As she claimed, the number of survivors of violence against women and the survivors are tracked through visit to homes for necessary help. The ward is working with the motto of ‘Haldibari’s women, first in development’. But it is not easy for women ward chairs to advocate for the issues and rights of women and to bring them in practices.
Before the election, voices had come from some sections of the society that women were incapable to hold the ward chair posts. They won the elections by defeating their competitors: all male. However, they continue to face discriminations.
Thulung said when she puts the issues of women before the meeting, male local representatives wonder: why to continue nagging unnecessarily? They collectively say that ‘no greed, no irregularities’ is the ethics they have adopted in practice. RSS

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