Nepal, on Thursday, found its first woman president in eminent women activist Bidhya Bhandari. Bidhya Bhandari has been one of the two prominent women politicians in Nepal. Her long and arduous journey has been accompanied by great achievements of historical significance.
She was part of the anti-monarchist rallies during the reformation movement in Nepal, which was responsible for the formation of Nepal’s current democratic framework. Her efforts towards women empowerment and gender equality led to a women’s quota in parliament – equal to 1/3rd of total seats. She also successfully established a framework which necessitates that the president and vice president of the nation be people of either different genders or people belonging to different castes/ethnicities.
Despite such achievements, Bhandari has faced her share of criticism. She has been accused of ambivalence towards feminism due to her support to citizenship laws discriminating against women.
As president of the country, Bhandari will be the supreme commander of the nation’s army. The role of the president is highly restricted and mostly ceremonial, but with her experience, influence in politics, and her camaraderie with incumbent Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli; she may play a much greater role than one imagines.