‘Judicial committees can address women’s issues’

Kathmandu, January 11

Judicial committees formed at the local level can greatly help promote gender quality and work for the empowerment of women, said speakers at a workshop held here today.

Speaking at the workshop ‘Gender’s Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Building Accountability of Elected Local Representative’, speakers said they were hopeful that the new system would address issues of women as 92 per cent of posts of deputy chief in 753 local levels were held by women.

Judicial committees have been formed in the local levels to settle local disputes. These committees are authorised to formulate their own policies. Elected deputy chief of the concerned local level is the coordinator of the three-member committee, while the other two members are either nominated or elected.

According to the organisers, around 100 participants, including 23 deputy chiefs of local levels, are participating the three-day workshop.

Speaking at the programme, former Parliament speaker and CPN-Maoist Centre leader Onsari Gharti Magar said an overwhelming number of women representatives in local levels was testimony to the fact that the country had entered a new era of development.

“The fight against patriarchy will continue until women can enjoy equal rights. I hope the judicial committees led by women in most of the local levels will help promote gender equality and women empowerment,” Gharti said.

Similarly, Caroline Vandenabeele, head of Governance Facility, said, “Women empowerment and equality now looks promising with higher number of women representatives, but having said that a lot of challenges are yet to be overcome.”

Election of 1,500 local women representatives across the country has created an opportunity to position issues of gender equality and women empowerment at the center of development, equality and peace, said speakers.

While local levels are complaining of lack of clear laws defining their jurisdiction, lack of coordination between elected representatives has also hampered service delivery. Some of the local representatives said, they were yet to form Judicial Committee.

Deputy Mayor of Krishnapur Municipality Ramita Rana said they had already received 30 cases in the last six months and settled 50 per cent cases, most of which were related to women.

“We are very excited about the new system as women who were earlier hesitant to approach the court for justice are now coming forward and filing complaints. They are now more hopeful of justice than in the previous judicial system,” said Rana.

The workshop is being organised by SAATHI and National Network for Beijing-report Nepal, which works on issues of women empowerment and gender-based violence.