Since 1999, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has worked to strengthen the electoral management capacity of the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN), promote inclusive electoral reform and partner with civil society organizations to mobilize citizens to participate in democratic processes.
IFES has provided technical support to the ECN to manage elections since the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord, reaching over 4.5 million people through voter education initiatives and supporting trainings for over 347,000 ECN staff and poll workers. Advancing electoral transparency and integrity is at the core of IFES’ work with the ECN and has resulted in sustainable technology solutions to monitor political finance and manage election dispute cases and political party registration. To increase inclusivity in electoral processes, IFES has supported the ECN to develop civic and voter education programs and advised on the formation of the ECN’s Gender and Social Inclusion Unit and a gender inclusion policy. IFES also works with the ECN to combat new and emerging threats to democracy through enhancing their cybersecurity and countering election-related hate speech, disinformation and misinformation.
To expand the political participation of marginalized groups in Nepal, IFES has partnered with over 40 civil society organizations through civic and voter education campaigns, voter registration support and leadership and advocacy programs. These efforts include the “Youth for Good Governance” program, which builds young leaders’ advocacy skills and political knowledge and empowers them to mobilize their communities, as well as the “Power to Persuade” program, which empowers women with disabilities to advocate for their rights and participate in political processes. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth and women with disabilities advocates from both programs disseminated critical public health and awareness information about COVID-19 and advocated for an inclusive and accessible government response.
In 2019, IFES launched the “She Leads” program in Nepal, which trains elected women at the local government level to strengthen their leadership skills and knowledge about their roles as local officials. Participants will complete beginner and intermediate training modules, participate in mentorship programs and engage in networking events. “She Leads” will also engage male elected representatives, the media and community members to increase women’s participation in political decision-making in Nepal.
IFES’ programs in Nepal are supported by the United States Agency for International Development through the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening, the Australian Government and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.