It is imperative to enhance meaningful engagement of women and marginalized groups (WMGs) in decision-making process and systems at local level in line with the spirit of the Constitution, experts noted.
At a national advocacy campaign for positioning WMGs in democratic decision-making process in local governments, the experts highlighted the need for resourcefully engage the weaker sections in local level planning, budgeting and monitoring process.
“The Article 40 of the Nepal Constitution has guaranteed women’s rights to participate in all state apparatuses based on the principle of proportional inclusion”, said the experts while delivering their views at the program organized by Freedom Forum – an NGO working on public sector accountability.
Presenting a working paper on the ‘Roles and Responsibilities of elected representative from WMGs in local government’, inclusion expert Dr Sangram Singh Lama said though women’s representatives have respectful positions at federal, province and local tiers of governments with 33.5, 34.5 and 40.96 percent their roles are still weak in decision-making level.
He also stressed the need to provision the formation of planning and budget execution committee under the leadership of vice-chair or deputy mayor to better position the participation of WMGs in planning and budgeting.
“It is indispensable to lay emphasis on selection of plans and programs in a way to provide direct benefits to women, children, marginalized groups, region and community”, he highlighted.
Dr Lama in his paper also underlined the need to carry out stakeholder analysis of WMGs from federal to local level based on disaggregated data and put this into policy, plan and program so as to increase their access to resources.
Likewise, Joint-Secretary at Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration Purusottam Nepal said meaningful participation of WMGs in decision-making at local government was a must toward building a base for egalitarian society in line with the principle of inclusive democracy, proportional representation and participation.
Delivering presentation on ‘effective engagement of WMGs in different service delivery at local government’, he said though there are 14,353 women’s representatives (40.96 %) in 753 local levels their influences in decision-making process need to be increased.
“In order for the WMGs to establish their constitutionally-guaranteed rights focus should be laid on their participation in planning and programming”, he noted.
He argued that ensuring proper participation of women in development activities would make big contributions in local development and governance.
Similarly, decentralization expert Hem Raj Lamichhane in his working paper ‘meaningful participation of WMGs in local government’s planning, budget implementation and monitoring process’ underscored the urgency of increasing WMG’s capacity in the planning, budgeting and monitoring processes at local level.
“Inclusion is imperative to ensure effective outreach of plan to the end beneficiaries and make them transparent and result-oriented”, the paper highlighted.
Speaking on the occasion, member of State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the Federal Parliament Dr Dila Sangraula emphasized on the importance of strengthening the local government and decentralizing power to the local levels.
“There is wider participation of women due to mandatory provision of the statute. However, there is a long way to go to establish WMG’s access to executive positions which is very important for decision making and execution.”
On the occasion, Freedom Forum Executive Chef Taranath Dahal said, “Inclusion and participation would make sense when the people at margin are brought to the mainstream of governance and local law and structures are mechanized to yield fruitful results.”
Freedom Forum Chair Haribinod Adhikari, SUSASAN project team leader Hem Tembe, Goveranne Advisor Binod Upadhyay, Young Innovations CEO Bibhushan Bista and participants from six project districts of SUSASAN were also present on the occasion. They also emphasized the need to devise thematic and technological interventions to break the stereotypes in participation and make their engagement in local governance meaningful.