Women take lead role in CA poll awareness campaign

Sarlahi, March 28:

Women members of the community forest user groups are spearheading campaigns to make the locals aware about the importance of the constituent assembly election and bridging the divide between the people of the hill origin and those from of plains in Sarlahi district.

Altogether 23 campaigners — half of them women of the Madhesi communities — groomed by the Federation of Communist Forestry User Groups have been especially targeting women in all six constituencies in the district.

“Initially, the women used to slam their doors on us saying that the CA election, like any other polls, did not mean anything to them. These days a lot of women are aware about the election and its importance,” said Parvati Duraj BK, the campaign coordinator.

Almost 60,000 people in the district with 471,489 voters are members of the 60 community forestry users groups.

The campaigners organise programmes to educate the community forestry users as well as the villagers about women’s issues to be raised in the CA election.

They are also urging the voters to prioritise women candidates who stand for democratic republic and only to choose men if the women candidates are not available or if they support the ‘regressive forces’.

“We are not campaigning for any party. The basic idea is to caution them so that the wrong candidates are not elected,” BK said.

One of the campaigners at Ghurkoli VDC, Jamuna Poudel, said that women are taking interest in the campaign, but men are not too receptive.

“They arrogantly turn down our invitation questioning what women could possibly teach them about politics. But ask them about the CA election and they hardly know anything,” she said.

Another significant aspect of the campaign is that it is helping to mend the communal harmony disturbed in the Tarai in the course of and in the aftermath of the unrest in Madhes over the last one year.

Sitaram Pokharel, chairman of district chapter of the federation, said members of the user groups have started to own the campaign. “They tell us not to come to the village if they perceive any threat by the armed groups,” he said.

Only a few years ago, only the people of hilly-origin were affiliated to the user groups and the Madhesi communities treated them as aliens. Around three weeks back, some 10,000 women took part in an assembly organised by the user groups at Harivan and around half the

participants were Madhesi women. All the guest speakers were women leaders from various

parties and the event managers were women from the user groups.