In what may be seen as a progressive step towards empowerment of women, Minister for Education, Renu Yadav, has decided to appoint 15 women District Education Officers (DEOs). Minister Yadav has claimed that the Ministry is not even learnt to have made efforts to appoint women DEOs in the past. That Minister Yadav’s move is very much in line with the government’s objective of empowering women cannot be disputed. In fact, the need to restructure Nepal’s officialdom that has thrived on the vices of favouritism, nepotism and corruption has long been felt. Every effort made towards the empowerment of backward, underprivileged and downtrodden communities deserves appreciation.
Nevertheless, the question of whether such appointments are made according to acceptable standards of selection procedure cannot be overlooked. Often, selection has mainly been influenced by factors other than qualification, experience and merit. Politicians often tend to make populist decisions in order to attract vote banks. Such decisions live short and do not fulfil the government’s long-term objectives. The objective of empowering certain categories of people is good. But this must not happen at the cost of merit. Some kind of affirmative action is also seen in advanced countries, but they value merit and performance more than anything else.