Tikapur, Jan 23: The Tharu community in Kailali recently celebrated the Maghi festival with much fanfare. Shifting their attention, they have geared up for electing leadership in Badghar or Bhalmansa. The leadership is traditionally nominated by a community gathering locally known as 'Khojni Bojni bhela'.
However, women were and are never prioritised during the selection of leaders in Badhghar or Bhalmansa as these positions have been exclusively held by men since the beginning.
One Ram Kumari Chaudhary of Janaki-7 voiced her concern over the 'neglect' of women's meaningful representation in Badghar and Bhalmansa. The community is not serious about the need for women's leadership in such social units within the Tharu population.
The selection procedures are not inclusive though in some cases the process is followed by election or based on consensus. The tradition is not liberal to bring women into leadership roles, according to her.
Despite constitutional and legal mandates requiring 33 percent of women's participation in each area, this inclusion has not extended to Badghar or Bhalmansa.
Basanti Chaudhary of Janaki rural municipality highlighted the male-centric nature of the leadership selection process in the Badghar committee.
All the posts in the Badghar community in her locality are held by males. Women are not trusted for the leadership. The term 'leader' in Badghar has been synonymous with male leadership, she added.
There are 57 Badghar inside the Tikapur municipality in Kailali and they have the participation of two women in total when the temporary population of women outnumber males who are outside the home due to employment. Despite their active roles and contributions in social affairs, their political roles are overlooked.
Chaudhary stressed that women should be encouraged to take leadership roles in Badghar or Bhalmansa. "It is urgent to give them opportunities to lead Badghar and Bhalmansa," she asserted.
Some local levels have enacted the Badghar Act and the nominations of leadership in Badghar and Bhalmansa are underway in various local levels.
Local levels here are effortful to validate the long-existing tradition of Badghar or Bhalmansa among the Tharu community.
Women have realized the need to incorporate the issues of inclusion and women in Badghar or Bhalmansa leadership.
Janaki rural municipality vice-chair Lalmati Devi Kathariya underlined the need to adhere to the constitutional provisions in the election of Badghar or Bhalmasna leader. "Women have an equal right to claim their stake in the leadership roles."
In the Tharu community, the person holding the position of Badghar or Bhalmansa traditionally does the role of a chief of the community who is authorized by the community to look after community affairs, draft local laws and run the community. (RSS)