‘It’s not easy for women to be a politician’: Women’s political participation in post-conflict Nepal

Sarah Hewitt

The adoption of Nepal’s Final Constitution in 2015 led to the institutionalisation of a new federal state structure. Subsequent electoral laws established different gender-sensitive mechanisms for women to access political opportunities through electoral and institutional pathways. Thus, women’s representation has dramatically increased in government bodies and leadership positions across Nepal. However, while these policies and laws support women’s political participation in governance bodies, they may not capture the full picture of women’s participation, and the barriers women face in trying to access that participation. In this paper, I examine the different formal and informal enabling and constraining factors that affect women’s post-conflict political opportunities in Nepal with a focus on women in local levels of government. I focus on four key features affecting women’s participation in post-conflict Nepal: gender quotas and electoral systems, political parties, campaign financing, and patriarchal social structures. I argue that to understand how women interact with the different post-conflict pathways for representation, there must be an analysis of the broader dynamics of power. This includes addressing the material gendered inequalities and asymmetric power relations between men and women, which are fundamental in shaping opportunities for representation.


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The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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