'Democratic Dialogues' continue to be popular………….

10 Mar 2011

The Loktantrik Sambad (democratic dialogues) programme, supported by the UNDP Support to the Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN) project is a open forum where the general public can freely participate in dialogues and discussions about the Constitution making processes.

Recently in one of the democratic dialogues, the local women and men of Kurta Village Development Committee raised key questions about the provision made by the state for the young widows below 60 years, higher participation of women in the Constitution making process and ‘special reservation’ provision for representing the marginalized group of women in the parliament.

Amina Khatun stated,"only six months earlier I knew nothing about the Constitution. After having an opportunity to participate in this programme, I now better understand Nepal’s historic Constitution making process, as well as my right to participate in it."

This dialogue was organised by the Janaki Women Awareness Society and the Social Development Path, a local NGO. The event was attended by over 150 people including the team led by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal, Robert Piper and the SPCBN officials.

While some participants expressed their doubts if their issues would be incorporated and addressed in the new Constitution, some were worried about the low representation of Madhesis (Terai people) — which is 83 at the moment in the 601 member Constituent Assembly (CA).

Addressing the local community concerns, Robert Piper stated, “The CA members are working hard to ensure that people’s views, inputs and aspirations are incorporated into the new Constitution.” He further added, "Everyone has the right to know about the Constitution making process and to be able to contribute to it and this is possible only through improved information flow between the people and the Government."

Under the SPCBN civil society outreach programme, grants have been made available to the civil society federations and associations across the country representing a diverse range of communities. These grantees have now conducted community-level ‘democracy dialogues’ in all of Nepal's 3,915 Village Development Committees and 240 constituencies in order to inform people on the main provisions proposed in the concept papers of the Thematic Committees of the CA.

To date some 450,000 people have attended democracy dialogues across the country. Suggestions collected from these dialogues have been compiled and submitted to the CA Chair Subash Nembang and all the CA members during the first week of January 2011.