Women’s Empowerment at the Frontline of Adaptation
and municipality level (which are comprised of wards). Village development committees consist of nine wards each, while the number of wards in municipalities depends on the population and area the municipality covers. Each ward has an elected ward committee of five persons chaired by the elected ward chairperson. According to an Ordinance, later passed as the Act on Election to Local Institutions (1997), each ward must have at least one woman on the ward committee. The ward members constitute the village development committees assembly, while the ward chairpersons constitute its executive committee, which is responsible for day-to-day operations. At least one woman is nominated to each village development committee or municipality executive committee. Furthermore, village development committee chairpersons and vice-chairpersons, parliamentarians elected from the districts, and six nominated members, including one woman, constitute the district assembly, and they elect the district development committee chairperson, vice-chairperson, and members of its executive committee (see Figure 5). The role of women leaders in panchayats and district development committees in making village and district development plans and accessing government schemes for climate change adaptation to meet the specific needs of women can be very crucial is mainstreaming gender issues at the local level. However, this is only possible if these institutions provide an enabling environment to their women members and acknowledge their leadership positions. Nepal’s Interim Constitution of 2007 (Article 20, 2007) outlaws discrimination on the basis of gender. It also advocates for special legal provisions to protect and advance the interests of women as well as recognizes women’s rights as a fundamental right. Through the efforts by different agencies in the field of women rights, some positive changes have been achieved at the policy level with regards to women’s participation and representation. However, despite these efforts, women’s participation and inclusion in politics and structures of governance is generally restricted and often serves the mere purpose of representation.
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