Feature

THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF NEPAL

Right Honourable President Bidya Devi Bhandari is the first Woman president of Nepal

and the first head of state to hold the office after the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal 2015. She took the helm of the country from her predecessor Ram Baran Yadav after being elected to the post of president on October 28, 2015 during a challenging period when the country was facing unofficial economic embargo from India while it was still reeling under the effects of the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015.

Born to a peasant family on June 19, 1961 at Manebhanjyang of Bhojpur district in the eastern hills, she faced a lot of ups and downs as she embarked in her political

journey as a student leader to establish democratic rights and equality in the society.

“After observing the inequities under the autocratic Panchayat regime, she

came to the conclusion that there could be no socio-economic advancement
in the absence of democracy and then became involved in the left politics and the democratic movement against the Panchayat regime”, states the office of

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president.

According to the president’s office,” President Bhandari, who was inclined towards Communist Movement of Nepal since her school days in Bhojpur, became a member of the Youth League of the Nepal Communist Party (Marxist Leninist) in 1978 and received full membership in the party the next year.”

Her political life proceeded in three dimensions simultaneously – as a student leader, a women rights activist and as a dedicated cadre of a political party fighting for democracy.

But it was only in the early 90s that she came into prominence after winning the by-election of 1993 as a Member of Parliament from Kathmandu-1 for

a post that fell vacant following the

controversial death of her husband Madan Bhandari, who was a prominent figure in the left movement.

President Bhandari had married Madan Bhandari in 1982 after getting acquainted with him during her party related
works. The couple was blessed with two daughters Usha Kiran and Nisha Kusum. However, Madan Bhandari, who was considered an influential communist leader met with a tragic death in a mysterious highway accident on 16th May 1993 at Dasdhunga, Chitwan. It was after his death that President Bhandari rose to prominence in her political career and has never looked back since then.

“The Sixth National Convention of Communist Party of Nepal (unified Marxist-Leninist) in 1999 elected President Bhandari as a member of

the Central Committee, its highest policymaking body. She began significant activities as a national
level leader, and was elected Central Committee member again in the Seventh National Convention, and the Eighth National Convention in 2009 made

her the Party Vice-Chair. The delegates voted her Vice-Chair and member of the Standing Committee again in 2014, recognizing her popularity, work ethics and integrity,” states the Office of the President.

She won three consecutive terms as MP from different constituencies of Kathmandu in 1993, 1994 and 1999 respectively.

One of the most remarkable and outstanding achievements of her struggle for equality was the passage

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of the resolution by the Legislature-Parliament to guarantee at least 33 percent women’s representation in state’s political structures at every level, including for the House of Representatives. The Constitution of Nepal, promulgated by the Constituent Assembly in 2015, has ensured this provision.

According to the Office of the President, “President Bhandari started her career in the country’s executive as Minister for Environment and Population in 1997. In the year 2009, she served

in the Cabinet as the Defence Minister, becoming the first woman leader of Nepal entrusted with
this sensitive portfolio. During her time as
Defence Minister, President Bhandari facilitated the integration of former Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army, as per the Comprehensive Peace Accord as well as drafting of the National Security Policy. She remained a Member of Parliament, Vice-Chair of the CPN (UML) and President of the ANWA, until she was elected as the President of the Republic of Nepal”.

She was reelected for a second term as president on March 13, 2018.

In the year 2009, she served in the Cabinet as the Defence Minister, becoming the first woman leader of Nepal entrusted with this sensitive portfolio