Activist elected Nepal’s first female President

A Communist campaigner whose fight for democracy brought about the end of a 240-year Hindu monarchy in Nepal has been named as the nation’s first female President.

Bidhya Devi Bhandari, who is largely credited with ensuring that a third of politicians in Nepal are now women, was deputy leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), and had lobbied for the new constitution to require that either the president or vice-president be a woman. 
Nepal has been trying to shift from a male-dominated society, where women are mostly limited to working at homes or on farms, to one in which women have equal opportunities and legal rights. As a close ally and party colleague of the Prime Minister, Khadga Prasad Oli, Ms Bhandari had been considered the favourite for the largely ceremonial job. 
Ms Bhandari said her election marked a first step toward assuring the new constitutional “guarantees of equality” are fulfilled. Last week, Onsari Gharti Magar was elected as the parliament’s first female Speaker. Ms Bhandari took up politics in her teens, later marrying a fellow Communist, Madan Bhandari. Ms Bhandari has been a leading political figure since 1993 when her husband was killed in a car accident. 
She led demonstrations against the former King Gyanendra in 2006, ending his authoritarian rule and restoring democracy.
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