Female leaders in Nepal deepen knowledge of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of federalism

Forum President George Anderson’s spoke recently with female Constituent Assembly (CA) Members and political leaders at the Nepal Administrative Staff College near Kathmandu, Nepal.

The event at the prestigious civil service college was organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) as part of its training program titled "Women Leadership Academy.” This program is directed toward female politicians who do not have the same familial and societal support as their male counterparts. Women comprise slightly more than 30 per cent of the Constituent Assembly.

In his presentation Mr. Anderson introduced basic principles and characteristics of federal systems through comparative examples. The participants learned of such "nuts and bolts” of federalism as the division of powers and responsibilities between the central government and its constituent units. Fiscal federalism was another speaking point and Mr. Anderson offered a wide variety of examples from Nepal and federal countries worldwide.

Among the questions asked were: How does the number of constituent units affect the functioning of the whole? And how can Nepal avoid some of the pitfalls of other countries who have adopted federal systems?

Mr. Anderson remarked that the problems being faced by countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria do not necessarily originate from federalism per se. Rather, a democratic deficit will cause a host of problems that the existence of a flourishing democratic culture would avoid.

The presentation took place on Sept. 15, 2008 in Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, just south of the capital, Kathmandu.

The book "Federalism: An Introduction,” written by Mr. Anderson has been translated into Nepali and copies are now available in Nepal.

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