Celebrating The Success of Deputy Mayors

By Rachana Khatri

December 2021 marked the successful completion of the first-ever political leadership coaching program ‘Transforming Nepal’s Female Deputy Mayors’ for 17 female Deputy Mayors of Nepal. Nepal Communitere in partnership with Women LEAD Nepal, and support from The Asia Foundation Nepal co-designed and led a half-year-long leadership coaching program for Deputy Mayors of Province 3 from March-August 2021. We held a wonderful celebration event on Friday, December 3rd at the Skyline Hall at Hotel Himalaya culminating this inspiring and transformative coaching journey for our entire team!

‘Transforming Nepal’s Female Deputy Mayors’ is a 6-month leadership coaching program aimed to unleash the true potential of Nepal’s female Deputy Mayors across 18 municipalities in Bagmati Province. Through the coaching approach, we aimed to increase women’s participation in politics and overcome various internal fears, barriers, and challenges that they encounter as female leaders. With effective leadership skills, more and more Nepali women will be able to demonstrate the critical importance of female leadership in designing and implementing inclusive policies that meet the needs of their communities.

The program completion event brought together more than 70 attendees including important stakeholders who are engaged in strengthening women’s empowerment and leadership in Nepal. Twelve Deputy Mayors, from rural, peri-urban and urban municipalities across Bagmati province attended the program who shared their coaching experience and their inspiring journeys that involved the challenges, accomplishments, reflections, and transformation they experienced in the process.  We also organized an intimate group coaching session with all Deputy Mayors allowing them to reflect, share and dig deep to determine how organizations, governments, and the Deputy Mayors’ own network can continue to support each other for the upcoming elections. 

Hima Bista, Executive Director at WomenLEAD Nepal

Bahar Kumar, Strategic Director at Nepal Communitere (Now Impact Hub Kathmandu), and Hima Bista, Executive Director of Women LEAD Nepal shared the powerful findings, outcomes, and observations of this entire coaching approach. Dr. Madhurima Bhadra, one of the six coaches of the program, shared her invaluable experience and learnings through coaching these female leaders and the transformation she witnessed amidst her Deputy Mayors.

Ms. Lily Thapa, founder of Women for Human Rights and Honorable Commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission Nepal, was our keynote speaker and reminded the audience of prominent historic events of female leadership that broke the glass ceiling and brought several reformations in Nepal’s socio-political, legal, and policy-level structures. हिजो हामो महिला दिदीहरूले निडर लडेर परिवर्तन ल्याएकाले हामीले आज यतिसम्म महिला अधिकार पाएका छाै। अब आजको हाम्रो नेतृत्व र तपाइ महिला उपप्रमुखहरूको सफल नेतृत्वले इतिहास रच्दै आउदो पुस्ताको लागि पनि बाटो बनाउदै हुनुहुन्छ। She also reiterated the fact that although the new federal structure in Nepal has provided power and rights to female leaders, there still are a lot of struggles for a woman leader from family, society and the policy level itself.

“Judicial Committee is a crucial, powerful and prominent role provided to Deputy Mayors through the constitution and it’s a challenge as well as opportunity, that allows female leaders to be in fore-front to observe, interact and solve problems of their communities from ground level. This has provided a space for female leaders to demonstrate their leadership capabilities however there still are many challenges for women to truly practice meaningful leadership. Women are still questioned on their leadership capabilities and there isn’t always strong back-up support, funding or network with aspiring female leaders. We need to continue supporting these rising local female political leaders in our best way possible.”

Ms Lily Thapa, Founder of Women for Human Rights

Srijana Tamang, Deputy Mayor of Jugal Rural Municipality, shared the impact of the coaching program on her personal life and political career. Srijana Tamang, is probably the youngest female deputy mayor of Nepal who came to the position at the young age of 23 years.

“This 6-months leadership coaching program really boosted my confidence and courage to step up and create a 10 year plan for myself. During this 6 months long coaching program, I was able to reflect, get unstuck and develop a concrete plan and direction of my life for the next 10 years”.

Srijana Tamang, Deputy Mayor of Jugal Rural Municipality

The program also displayed short clips of Deputy Mayors who shared their experiences and story of transformation, especially after the coaching program. The video aims to be used as a document informing about the political leadership coaching program. 

There was a moderated panel discussion with 3 Deputy Mayors: Kamala Sharma, Deputy Mayor from Siddhalek Rural Municipality, Sarita Lamichane, Deputy Mayor of Bethanchok Rural Municipality and Urmila Gurung, Deputy Mayor, Netrawati Dabjong Municipality who shared their political journeys, existing challenges, and what organizations, institutions and the government of Nepal can do to further strengthen female political leadership at the local level. We also highlighted remarkable transformation stories of 5 Nepali female Deputy Mayors who participated in this coaching program which you can view here. 

Ms. Lily Thapa handed the program completion certificates and appreciation to all 17 Deputy Mayors and we wrapped up the program with a networking event where participants and stakeholders could openly interact and share their learnings with one another.

Our program focused on developing leadership skills and supporting locally elected female political leaders to address their own challenges, including building confidence and recognizing their true potential and capabilities to drive change, manage complexity, increase efficiency, build top-performing teams, motivate, improve results, reach goals, and maintain a strong personal foundation to thrive under the most challenging conditions. 

As part of our learning, we conducted endline surveys and 1-1 feedback sessions where more than 90% of participants asked us for continued coaching, while some suggested this coaching program be provided to upcoming female leaders during the start of their tenure. As we tested out this first model for political coaching in Nepal, with our program partner, Coachme Nepal we are compiling our learnings into a coaching manual in both English and Nepali that will serve as an excellent resource to strengthen the coaching culture in Nepal. 

We congratulate these amazing women leaders for their upcoming big and bold journeys to lead Nepal and on the other hand, we are further pumped up to design and deliver more of these gender-based impact programs for Nepal as we launch  Impact Hub Kathmandu this January 2022. Stay tuned for more!

Read our event coverage by Ekantipur: https://ekantipur.com/news/2021/12/03/163854510281432396.html