Magazine article New Internationalist

Introducing. Bidhya Devi Bhandari

Magazine article New Internationalist

Introducing. Bidhya Devi Bhandari

Article excerpt

At the end of October, Bidhya Bhandari was elected the first woman president of the small mountainous state of Nepal. The former minister of defence and vicechair of the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal beat her rival from the Congress Party by a margin of nearly two to one. Bhandari was active in the student movement before being elected to parliament in 1994. She had gained public sympathy and national prominence in 1993 when her husband, the popular leftist Madan Bhandari, died in a mysterious car crash that many felt was a political assassination. The Communists came to power in 2008, following the abolition of the Hindu monarchy that had presided over a system of absolutist feudal inequality for 240 years.

Bhandari, who is from a poor farm family in eastern Nepal, struggled for years in the democratic underground against both feudal Hinduism and the rabid patriarchy that permeates Nepalese society. …

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