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Job quota a ray of hope for Muslims, women: Nepal's first female Muslim lawyer
Sunday April 17, 2016 12:11 PM, Agencies

Mohna Ansari

Kathmandu (Nepal):
Stressing that the Muslims in Nepal are "slowly … coming up", Mohna Ansari, the country's first female Muslim lawyer and a commissioner at the Nepal Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says that the latest constitutional amendments has given the beleagured communities a ray of hope.

"The new constitutional amendments give them a ray of hope," Mohna Ansari, the lawyer from a lower middle-class Muslim family in the southern city of Nepalgunj says, referring to a clause in the constitution that ensures a job quota for Muslims.

Ansari also supports the decision to reserve 33 percent of government jobs for women, and hopes that Muslim women - who are at the bottom of social and education indicators - will also benefit from this, according to AL Jazeera.

Interestingly, Ansari's rise has also been seen as a reflection of the change that has been taking place in Nepal since the monarchy was abolished in 2006 - after a decade of Maoist rebellion.

Ansari became the first in her family to graduate and the first woman law graduate from the Muslim community, which forms just under five percent of the country's population and is typically poor with low levels of education.

Ansari explains that her "parents are illiterate, so they wanted their kids to be educated and to have careers in different sectors".

"In Nepal, Muslim parents generally don't want to send their kids to formal education" at secular institutions, Ansari explains. However, she "went to a co-ed government school".

Still, she wasn't given the same opportunities as her brothers as her family, like so many others in this nation of 27 million people, believed that "sons will look after [the family], while daughters will go".

"My brothers went to [English medium] boarding school, and I went to government school," Ansari says. "But I am happy they sent me to school where I got my education - not only Islamic, but also a modern education."

But financial issues plagued her college education and she was forced to drop out after her first year. She returned three years later upon getting a scholarship.

"Later, I enrolled in a bachelor's degree [programme] in law from Mahendra Multiple College - the only government college in Nepalgunj - and passed in 2003," she explains.

As the only woman in the five-member commission, which has tackled issues such as security force excesses and gender discrimination, Ansari says: "It's very difficult to operate."


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