Empowering women who constitute the majority of the most marginalized sectors in South Asia goes beyond simply giving them positions to occupy in government. It means equipping them to be able to represent their sector effectively as they occupy seats in one of the most premier decision making bodies in their countries—the government.
Two years ago, what was a brainchild of Nepal’s National Democratic Institute (NDI) eventually became a reality as over 80 Nepalese women representing various political parties gathered to take part in the first of a series of phases of the Women’s Leadership Academy.
The goal of the Women’s Leadership Academy was basically to give women and civil society some leverage in influencing how policies and decisions are made and then applied to actually solve recurring problems in Nepal, especially those that have to do with class, caste, and gender discrimination.
According to The Compilation of MDG Case Studies: Reflecting Progress and Challenges in Asia: “ In order to ensure broad and informed participation in the Constituent Assembly (CA) drafting process, the NDI started a CA support program with four main components: the creation of a Women’s Leadership Academy for women CA members and women civil society; community dialogs enabling women CA members to interact with constituents; working with women CA members to provide constituency services; and working with the Inter Party Women’s Alliance (IPWA) to expand their reach into more districts throughout Nepal.”
The leadership academy was bent on properly equipping women to become effective leaders as they prepare to occupy seats in government. The Women’s Leadership Academy sought to achieve this by helping women understand the constitution drafting process, by developing their advocacy skills, training them in public speaking, and teaching them the ropes when it comes to interacting with the media, as well as consensus building.
The Women’s Leadership Academy in Nepal serves as a very good example for other developing countries to follow because clearly, it is not enough to just put women in office. Extra effort has to be taken to ensure that they will max out the potential of being placed in such position in order for them to create ripples of change where it is badly needed.