A South Asian regional conference on Women’s Political Participation and Representation was organised in Kathmandu, Nepal on 11-12 September 2013. The conference was organised by SAAPE Women's Rights Campaign Group with the aims to develop a work-plan to ensure the women’s representation in politics and decision-making level in South Asia.
The conference was inaugurated by Vice-President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Paramananda Jha. Inaugurating the conference, Vice-President said that overall development of the country was possible only when the equal participation of women in the decision making level. The problem of discrimination against women in the SAARC countries are common, he said and stressed the need of organising common campaigns for the empowerment and rights of women.
The conference was attended by around 200 women leaders, lawmakers, rights activists, civil society leaders, parliamentarians and human rights defenders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Ms. Bidhya Bhandari- Chairperson of All Nepal Women Association (ANWA) and former minister of Nepal, Ms. Pasya Padma- Chairperson of Farmer Union of Andra Pradesh, India and Executive Member of All India Kishan Shabha, Ms. Sazida Zulfiqar- Member of Parliament, Pakistan, Ms. Thalatha Athukorala- Member of Parliament, Sri Lanka, Ms. Rangina Kargar- Member of Parliament, Afghanistan, Ms. Rowshan Jahan Shathi- Member of Parliament, Bangladesh and Dr. Shobha Raghuram- Founder and Advisor of SAAPE also addressed the conference.
Ms. Bidya Bhandari, Chairperson of ANWA said that it was the historical achievement to make 33 per cent women's representation in the dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA) in Nepal and a campaign should be launched to ensure 50 per cent women representation through the upcoming election.
Dr. Netra Timilsina, Coordinator of SAAPE stressed on the need of change in the patriarchal practices through education and campaigns to end violence against women and social discrimination.
At the end of the opening session, the 'SAAPE Poverty and Vulnerability Report 2013' was jointly launched by Vice President Jha and women political leaders, women parliamentarians and women's rights activists of South Asian countries.
The conference has adopted a 9 points Kathmandu Declaration which was handed over to the President of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadav on 12 September 2013 during a brief meeting with the South Asian women delegation.