Women have been excluded from the electoral race in Itahari. In the local level election slated for May 13, the ruling five-party alliance has fielded only men for all posts, including that of mayor, deputy mayor, and ward chair.

Mayoral candidate Hemkarna Poudel and deputy mayoral candidate Keshab Bista are both men. While Poudel represents Nepali Congress, Bista represents the CPN (Unified Socialist).

Likewise, all the ward chairs fielded by the five-party alliance in all 20 wards of Itahari are male.

The main opposition CPN-UML is no exception in that it has also excluded women from executive posts. UML has fielded all-male ward chairs in all 20 wards. In the previous election, UML had allocated the seat of ward chair for a woman. However, there is no space for women ward chair candidates this time around.

Meanwhile, UML has fielded a woman for the post of deputy mayor. Sangita Chaudhary is deputy mayoral candidate.

The mayoral candidate is Yam Kumar Subba. "This shows how the party machinery functions,'' remarked Tika Atreya Poudel, a noted literary figure and lecturer at Itahari's Janata Multiple College. She added, ''Women in the respective parties have to make their voice heard to protest against this patriarchal move.''

Interestingly, no woman from the contesting parties have presented themselves in the public to protest against their exclusion from executive posts in the local polls.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 29, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.