The young women of Nepal are still encountering a lot of problems because of their sex but nevertheless feel that the Joint Youth and Students’ Platform is promoting gender equality in politics. To assess women’s role in Nepalese youth politics and in the work of the platform, Demo Finland carried out a small-scale study on the subject by interviewing several women who have participated in the platform.
The interviews clearly showed that the Nepalese society still relies strongly to patriarchal values. Although women are able to participate more actively in politics than before, the male-dominated political culture creates a barrier in their way towards the higher positions. The economic and social responsibilities for their families are especially limiting women’s participation. Also, men are traditionally seen as the decision-makers in society whereas women are the caretakers of home and family issues. These patriarchal values are reflected in the scheduling of youth activities and other everyday tasks of organisations. Thus, the barriers often extend to the practical level, so that meetings, for example, are held late in the evening, when the women are expected to be at home taking care of their families.
The interviewees were in favor of gender quotas. Young female politicians feel that the possibilities for participation in party politics have improved substantially thanks to the quotas. This applies also to the work of the Joint Youth and Students’ Platform. A common wish was that the quotas would be extended to the decision-making level so that women could be involved on the top level. In any case, the women thought that the platform has built up women’s capacity and role in politics and their own organisations. The women hoped that gender training would be directed to both women and men to increase awareness in an equal way.
In addition to women’s role, Demo Finland examined the degree of ownership and continuity felt towards the platform. 45 interviewees believed that ownership had increased over the past two years. Over 90 percent of the respondents felt that participation in the platform’s activities has strengthened their political skills. Demo Finland’s neutral role and support was still considered important, and most respondents said that the platform would suffer if Demo stopped supporting it.
According to the respondents, the platform operates in a democratic way, the programs are planned according to the participants’ ideas and the influence of the platform has grown. The co-operation of the political organisations and the platform is also considered to be successful, and there is a lot of demand for participation. Demo’s role was seen important in the practical arrangements, even though the ownership of the forum has increased.
The success of the platform’s work is also shown in a clear increase in media coverage. In 2011, the platform appeared in at least 35 newspaper articles as well as in 15 television and 20 radio reportages. The Joint Youth and Students’ Platform has thus become a major forum for politics and a channel of young people’s voice in Nepal.