Women’s political leadership results in better outcomes for society and delivers progress in policy areas vital for economic growth and development. Democracy cannot meaningfully exist if more than half of the population is not wholly engaged equally in decision-making.
In Nepal, where women hold a third of parliamentary seats, WFD supports some of the newly-elected female legislators to improve their performance on parliamentary forums such as chamber Question Time and committee deliberations and strengthen their constituency outreach.
WFD’s support has enabled participating MPs to be closer to their constituents more frequently and be able to amplify the electorate’s voice in parliament and media. This is particularly critical for those lawmakers who come from remote mountainous regions. Stronger constituency engagement has also contributed to the functioning of Nepal’s new federal system as MPs coordinate their work with elected representatives of the provincial and municipal assemblies.
Like many countries, Nepal is in a nationwide lockdown as government focuses its effort to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is uncertain when social distancing measures will end. Nonetheless, WFD’s support to the women MPs continues, tailored to suit a more virtual world.
In April 2020, WFD remotely delivered learning sessions for a small group of women MPs on using social media more effectively and safely to communicate with constituents, as well as securing mobile phones. These sessions have also included discussions on various aspects of the legislative process such as secondary legislation and parliament’s role.
Social media has opened up a world of opportunity for members of parliament to communicate with the people they represent, helping to increase transparency. Just as importantly, though, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer MPs the chance to hear from their constituents and find out about their concerns and priorities. This is especially important during lockdowns, when other channels of communication such as constituency visits and MPs surgeries are impossible.
Home confinement has also been an opportunity for MPs normally with a busy schedule to have time to learn about and catch up on various parliamentary issues and share their experiences. Commenting after a particularly insightful session on delegated legislation over Microsoft Teams, Hon. Rangamati Shahi MP said:
Before, “I never had enough time to go deeper into issues such as secondary legislation.”