Bidhya Devi Bhandari, a longtime campaigner for women’s rights, became Nepal’s first female president this week after receiving 327 votes in parliament against her opponent’s 214. The 54-year-old communist was considered to be a favorite for the ceremonial position among lawmakers. Her election follows last week’s appointment of Onsari Gharti, who became the country’s first female Parliament speaker. Bhandari, a member of Nepal’s Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist party, has been a political figure since 1993 and has extensively lobbied that Nepal’s new constitution require the nation’s president or vice president be a woman. The new constitution took seven years to adopt and now also requires one-third of the nation’s lawmakers be women and for the inclusion of women in all government committees.
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