The Nepal Association of the Blind hopes to encourage the visually impaired to not just vote but also stand in elections
Kathmandu, August 27: “We want to ensure that visually impaired people not only vote during elections, but are also represented in the parliament,” says Ramesh Pokharel, Chairperson of the Central Committee of the Nepal Association of the Blind (NAB).
As the first step toward this, from August 13-16, the organization carried out a piloting of the training manual on advancing the political rights of persons with visual disabilities. The session was conducted in Kathmandu, with 40 participants from nine districts, all of whom had blindness.
Since 2016, UNDP’s Electoral Support Project has been collaborating with NAB to conduct various electoral and voter education programmes specifically targeted towards visually impaired individuals. NAB is currently partnering with the Electoral Support Project to create and deliver civic and voter education for people with visual impairments.
Pokharel, also visually impaired, notes that their fight now is to ensure that people with visual impairments are also included in the decision-making processes at the local, provincial and national levels. “We want them to go a step further and run in elections so that we can be properly represented,” he says. For that reason, NAB is piloting a training manual on political rights, electoral and voter education to ensure that differently-abled people, and particularly the blind, are not excluded in the nation building process.
NAB seeks to incorporate the feedback from the piloting to deliver a comprehensive training manual for the blind. In order to do so and to ensure inclusion, it plans to carry out such pilots provincially. In the days to come, the association aims to deliver a Master Training of Trainers workshop for approximately 25 instructors, who will then educate approximately 600 participants. The goal of the training is for the 600 participants to ultimately reach more people in their networks, so that individuals with visual impairments realize the need to vote and are also encouraged to stand in upcoming elections.
The Electoral Support Project- Phase II (ESP) is a technical assistance initiative which focuses on a long-term institutional and professional capacity development of the Election Commission Nepal (ECN) to conduct credible, inclusive and transparent elections. The objectives of the project are 1) to strengthen the capacity of the ECN to function as an independent and credible institution, 2) to allow the conduct of the election cycle in an effective, sustainable, and credible manner, and 3) to increase democratic participation, particularly for under-represented and disadvantaged segments of the Nepali society. The ESP is currently funded by the EU.