Apathy to appoint office bearers of NWC riles women activists
04 Nov, 2019
By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Nov. 4: Women activists have expressed their concerns over the government’s apathy to appoint the office bearers in the National Women Commission (NWC). At a time when the cases of violence against women, including rape, have risen throughout the country, the NWC responsible for dealing with such cases, is left without office bearers for more than two years. Key positions including the head of the commission are lying vacant after all its members got retirement following the introduction of the National Women Commission Act 2017 in line with the new Constitution. Positions of the chairperson and four members are lying vacant for the last two years. Women activists, including rights activists, political leaders, professors and women from different walks of life, who gathered at the meeting hall of the NWC on Sunday, said that showing apathy to give the NWC a full shape was like ignoring the 52 per cent of the country’s population. According to women activists, the government is showing its indifference to appoint the office bearers in the NWC because the issues of women are never a priority for the government. Lily Thapa, a women activist, whose name was recommended to head the commission, said in lack of office bearers, the NWC was unable to conduct monitoring of the serious violence cases. The commission has been unable to issue any instruction and make recommendation to the government due to lack of office bearers, said Thapa adding that this had affected the function of the commission. “Is there any lack of competent women in Nepal to lead the commission? Then why is the government reluctant to give this statutory body a full shape?” Thapa asked. Mira Dhungana, another women right activist, said since the commission was running without its office bearers, there was no official body to make recommendation to the government while formulating laws and policies. Indicating the recently enacted criminal and non-criminal law, Dhungana said the both laws had discriminatory provisions against women. “If the NWC had been functioning properly at that time, then it could have lobbied to scrap such discriminatory provisions.” Some of the women activists argued that the problem was not due to lack of competent officials to lead the commission but due to political prejudices. Shanti Adhikari, another candidate to head the commission, claimed the pace of women movement has, of late, slowed down. “This is the reason, why the government is hesitating to give the commission a full shape.” Despite the repeated pledges from the women activists to fill up the vacancies, the government has not done anything to fill the key positions of the commission. Shanti Pakhrin, a member of the Federal Parliament, assured that the issue of the commission would be raised in the parliament. The women activists have decided to exert pressure on the government to give the commission a full shape. They also asked the parliament members of the ruling and opposition parties to raise the issue in the parliament meeting. Dinesh Tripathi, secretary of the NWC, admitted that the overall functioning has been affected in absence of the office bearers. Senior most leaders of NCP are said to have recommended the names of the prominent women rights activists, including Lily Thapa and Shanti Adhikari, among others, to head the NWC. The Constitutional Council (CC) headed by Prime Minister is responsible to appoint the office bearers in the constitutional body. The commission has been without office bearers since Oct 2017, after Bhagwati Ghimire’s tenure was cut short in line with the enactment of NWC Act.