The leadership of the Ministry of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens has changed once again as a result of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal recently enlarging his Council of Ministers for the eleventh time. Mahindra Raya Yadav of the Nepal Samajbadi Party was replaced as the new minister by Surendra Raj Acharya of the Nepali Congress.
On March 31, Yadav assumed leadership of this ministry. However, he was moved to the Ministry of Water Supply only 33 days later.
Acharya is the current administration’s sixth leader of this ministry.
PM himself assumed control of this ministry on December 25, 2022, one day after being sworn in. He was in charge for 23 days. And on January 17, Bhagawati Chaudhary of the CPN-UML was given the task. But once the UML quit the cabinet on February 27, Dahal once again assumed control of this ministry, becoming the third change in the top-down structure. Yadav and Acharya took up the reins of power after him.
The Ministry of Women has only been damaged by five leadership changes in seven cabinet expansions. According to Kamala Pant, a member of the National Assembly, it is undesirable for a male to hold the position of minister. “Ministries that support vulnerable groups like women, children, and seniors have not been given priority,” she claims. They also get less funding. It has evolved into a flattering moniker that pleases everyone.
However, the ministry has remained insecure for around three decades, which experts feel is proof that the state institutions have failed to support women in leadership in Nepal.
When Sher Bahadur Deuba was the prime minister in 1995, this Ministry of Women was established. According to Congress politician Pant, “It was formed with the aim of advocating and strengthening the presence of women in government bodies, but it could not perform as intended.”
The evidence backs up Pant’s assertion. When there are 70 total ministers, the records for the Ministry of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens show that the prime minister has held this position 15 times. Besides Deuba, who served as prime minister four times, Girija Prasad Koirala, who served three times, Surya Bahadur Thapa, who served twice, and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Madhav Kumar Nepal, and Baburam Bhattarai, who served once each, the current prime minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has led the government four times.
Delegating portfolios during cabinet expansions is delayed while the prime minister is in charge of any ministry. The prime minister serves as the de facto head of any vacant portfolio(s) due to a lack of delegation.
Over the course of the ministry’s 28-year existence, there have been 70 ministers (including 51 ministers, 14 state ministers, and 5 assistant ministers). That indicates that a minister served for an average of five months.
Only 13 of the 49 ministers in the Ministry of Women up to this point were women, according to further data analysis. Asha Koirala, Tham Maya Thapa Magar, Juli Kumari Mahato, Chanda Chaudhary, Uma Regmi, and Bhagawati Chaudhary were among them. They were also Lila Koirala, Sahana Pradhan, Ashtalakshmi Shakya, Durga Shrestha, Jaipuri Gharti Magar, Riddhi Baba Pradhan, and Neelam KC
The remaining ministers were all male. However, when it comes to state ministers, women predominate. 11 of the 14 state ministers in place thus far are female.
There have been 24 women in positions of leadership, including ministers of state and assistant ministers. This represents 35% of the Ministry of Women’s total ministerial staff.
There are hardly many female ministers in the present government. Rekha Sharma, who oversees communications and information technology, Ranjita Shrestha, who oversees land management, cooperatives, and poverty alleviation, Sita Gurung, who oversees urban development, Sushila Sripaili Thakuri, who oversees culture, tourism, and civil aviation, and Nanda Chapai, who oversees physical infrastructure and transport, are all members of the 23-member Council of Ministers.
With the addition of state ministers, the three female ministers in this cabinet would represent 20% of the total number of ministers.
According to former minister Jaipuri Gharti Magar, the leadership’s mentality is to blame for the Ministry of Women’s subpar presence and effectiveness. “Women in leadership were meant to benefit from this ministry. But the ministry was unable to function. And since it lacked resources, tools, and power, it had to collapse.
“It is not that only women should go to the Ministry of Women,” Magar continues, “but it is better for a woman to be in the leadership because they will work in the field of women.”
Men were also given positions in this ministry, which was intended for women’s leadership. However, many shifted portfolios more quickly since their initial option was another ministry, says Pant, the former state minister of this ministry.
The Ministry of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens has so far been run by males.
Male ministers of state for women, children, and the elderly include Sher Bahadur Deuba, Rameshwar Raya Yadav, Surya Bahadur Thapa, Girija Prasad Koirala, Kul Bahadur Gurung, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Chiranjibi Wagle, Gore Bahadur Khapangi, Khadga Bahadur Vishwakarma, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Ram Charan Chau