Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
World: South Asia
Nepal's women back democracy
Rural Nepalese women are turning out to vote
Nepal's fledgling democracy is being given new hope as women turn out to cast their vote in the ongoing general elections.
A decade after the tiny mountain kingdom embraced the multi-party system, most of Nepal's poor and disenfranchised remain on the margins of society.
Parties focus on women voters
Nepal's Communist parties have been quicker than most to take advantage of this. In the past, the Marxists have used music and drama to convey their message of class oppression among women and the poor.
Now, they have found such performances a useful medium through which to canvass for votes.
They are fighting to turn Nepal into a Communist state.
Two people were killed during the election's first phase but, in general, voting was peaceful.
The re-introduction of democracy to Nepal, after three decades of absolute monarchy, has failed to solve many of the country's difficulties.
It remains one of the poorest countries in the world, its political system hampered by corruption, political in-fighting and the failure over the last five years of any party to gain an overall majority in parliament.
This year's poll is expected to be dominated by the Nepali Congress and the Communist United Marxist Leninists.
The first stage of general elections in Nepal began on 3 May with six million people in 93 constituencies eligible to vote.
The second stage will be held on Monday with more than seven million people able to vote in 112 constituencies.
The winner of the election will form the eighth government in Nepal since 1991.