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  • Nepal's new President Bidhya Devi Bhandari

    Nepal's new President Bidhya Devi Bhandari | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 October 2015

Bidhya Devi Bhandari is 54-years-old and has been a champion of women’s rights and led protests that ended the centuries-old Nepalese monarchy.

Bidhya Devi Bhandari has made history in Nepal. She has become the first women to rule the country. But that's not all. She is a communist who has been campaigning for a very long time in favor of women's rights.

She rose to power Wednesday after her Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party garnered 327 votes in parliament against her opponent's 214.

Bhandari is among the politicians who pushed to secure their rights under the new constitution, adopted last month, that requires that a new president be named.

The communist female leader became a leading political figure after her husband, Madan Bhandari, was killed in a car accident in 1993, which has remained mostly unexplained as circumstances surrounding the incident are dubious. He was the leader of the communist party.

The women's right activist is also one of the most notorious leaders of massive and relentless protests against the Nepalese monarch King Gyanendra back in the 1990s. The demonstrations ultimately led to the end of the king's authoritarian rule and to the re-establishment of democracy in the country.

Bhandari has now become only the second president since the Himalayan country became a republic after the end of the centuries-old monarchy.

In 2008, Ram Baran Yadav became the first Nepalese president to be elected. He was supposed to be in office for only two years, during which a new constitution was to be adopted. This, however, took seven years because of differences among the country's political parties.

The Glocal Khabar news website said she is one of Nepal's most prominent and active woman leaders. She spearheaded democratic and leftist movements.

The new president was born on July 19, 1961 in a remote village called Bhojpur in Manebhanjyang in the eastern region of the country. She engaged in politics at a very early age when she was a 17-year old student. Two years later, in 1980, she received full communist party membership.

In 1993, she took on a crucial role as the chairperson of the women's wing of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Union. And in 1994 and 1999 she was elected to parliament. Also, in 1997, she was elected to the central committee of the communist party UML.

In 2008, she held the post of defense minister overseeing the critical political transition after the end of the decade-long insurgency in the country.

Another of her achievements is to have succeeded in guaranteeing that women represent at least 33 percent of each state system, by seconding a resolution at the re-instated House of Representatives.

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