The Election Commission, Nepal (ECN) conducted and published a study on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in Elections, with technical support from the Electoral Support Project (ESP). The study adopts an evidence-driven and consultative approach, and uses election data and key informant interviews to look at the obstacles that candidates including women, Dalits and people with disabilities face in the electoral process.
The study discusses the findings as well as makes recommendations to the Government of Nepal (GoN), ECN, political parties, media, civil society organisations (CSOs) on how to make elections more inclusive. It urges the GoN to hold consultation meetings with various stakeholder while formulating laws, hone the capacity of women and socially-excluded groups to enhance their leadership skills. These will allow for increased participation from them during future elections. Furthermore, it recommends that the ECN should consider the introduction of technology, arrange for ballot papers in braille, and accessible materials and mechanical instruments for elections to be as accessible as possible for people with disabilities.
The study has played an important role in sensitizing people, including people with disabilities, on the need for accessible and inclusive elections. The Nepal Association of the Blind (NAB) stated that is was only during the consultative data-gathering sessions for the study that they realized the importance of recording the number of elected representatives who were living with disabilities. Furthermore, the study is used in the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) workshops on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion. It is also anticipated that the recommendations will be incorporated in ECN’s third Five-Year Strategic Plan, policies, action plans and future elections.
The Electoral Support Project- Phase II (ESP) is a technical assistance initiative which focuses on a long-term institutional and professional capacity development of the Election Commission (ECN) for conducting credible, inclusive and transparent elections. The objectives of the project are 1) to strengthen the capacity of the ECN to function as an independent and credible institution, 2) to allow the conduct of the election cycle in an effective, sustainable, and credible manner, and 3) to increase democratic participation, particularly for under-represented and disadvantaged segments of the Nepali society. ESP is currently funded by EU.