Why an inclusive panel is necessary

Sushmina Baidya was all excited to attend a panel discussion about increasing youth's participation in building the political scenario. With hopeful eyes, Baidya who is a social activist was expecting to see the forum filled with participation from various groups of people voicing their diverse opinions.

Unfortunately, she had to face disappointment as all of the speakers were male. A believer in equality, Baidya was hoping to witness female participation as more women are taking an interest in politics now than before. But seeing an all-male-panel disheartened her.

Panel discussions have always been a hub for male speakers. There have been instances where only men have been invited to speak on issues related to women!

Most organisers of panel discussions and conferences seem to not consider that women, sexual minorities and persons with disability also have opinions which could be instrumental in arriving at conclusions or solutions during a discussion. They act as if it is a hairsplitting task to look out for a diverse range of panellists, which makes the discussions one-dimensional.

Manels (all-male panels) has become a global issue. The discussions are always centred on male speakers, who have similar backgrounds and who echo similar ideologies, due to which learnings from the discussions become homogenous. According to an academic study conducted by TED talks, male speakers outnumber female speakers by a ratio of 3:1.

It is high time for diverse people to get a platform where they can share their views. A panel which isn't inclusive will have narrow perspective and less new ideas.

The dais (platform) should not only be limited to dais (meaning brothers in Nepali). It should also welcome didis and bahinis (both meaning sisters in Nepali), sexual minorities, and individuals with disabilities so that they too can get an equal platform to share their expertise.

"The voices of women and marginalised communities are yet to be explored. Ensuring equal representation and giving platforms will help to create a society where every voice is heard," shared Baidya.

Like how Simone de Beauvoir said, "Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth."

There is no shortage of deserving candidates of various genders, sexualities and ethnic groups. Let us give them an equal platform to voice out their opinions so as to have equal representation.