Last week, Nepal’s parliament elected Bidhya Devi Bhandari the country’s first woman president.
Elected by a 327 to 214 majority vote, Bhandari succeeds Ram Baran Yadav, the country’s first elected president following the dissolution of the Nepalese monarchy in 2008. Bhandari’s appointment comes on the heels of the adoption of Nepal’s new constitution, which was written with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in mind. The new constitution requires that women comprise one-third of the nation’s lawmakers, as well as contribute in all government committees. It also calls for either the President or Vice President to be a woman.
A longtime political activist and women’s rights advocate, Bhandari entered parliament in 1993. In 2009, Bhandari accepted the position of the country’s first defense minister, serving until 2011. Bhandari’s presidential election undoubtedly marks a milestone in Nepal.
Bhandari, who actively pushed to secure women’s rights under Nepal’s new constitution for the last seven years, has vowed to continue fighting for minority and women’s rights in the country.
Media Resources: BBC 10/29/15; NPR 10/29/15; The Guardian 10/28/15;