Five months into the ceasefire, Hisila Yami, Central Working Committee member and chief of the Women Department of the Maoist party, recently attended a meeting in Kathmandu. It was her first public appearance in eight years after she went underground.
The meeting was organised at the office of Asmita Women's Publications and was attended by the UML supported All Nepal Women's Association (ALWA) chief Goma Devkota, United People's Front supported ANWA chief Shashi Shrestha, National Women's Commission chief Durga Pokharel, Mukta Shrestha of Mulyankan, author Sudha Tripathi along with three women representing ANWA (Revolutionary), and Yami's sister-in-law Durga Neupane.
During the three-hour session, the women discussed the formation of a joint "women's front" of female leaders from political parties and independent female intellectuals to ensure the success of the on-going peace talks. Although Durga Pokharel agreed to the proposal no concrete decision was made.
Yami said nearly 33 percent of the Maoist army were female, and that two had risen up the ranks to become brigade commanders. "In some cases men have abandoned weapons and run from encounters, but women have never done so. We won all the battles that involved a large number of women guerillas," said Yami.
The party not only arranges weddings between members but has also set up "childcare centres" around Rukum, Rolpa and other Maoist hotbeds. Literacy among Maoist women is highly encouraged. Yami also confirmed the recruitment of homosexuals. In a short conversation regarding monarchy, Yami said the crown could never be a symbol of Nepal's unity. Yami wore military green shirt and pants. There was a conspicuous lack of personal bodyguards.