Nepal made history by electing the country’s first female president.
Bidhya Devi Bhandari was elected on Wednesday, Oct. 28 as Nepal’s president by a vote of 327-214 against Congress party leader Kul Bahadur Gurung, according to the Associated Press.
Bhandari is the country’s second president, according to the AP, and is replacing former president Ram Baran Yadav, since Nepal abolished its monarchy and became a republic in 2008.
Bhandari is a 54-year-old women’s right activist and the vice-chair of Nepal’s ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist). She has been a political figure since 1993 when her late husband and Communist party leader Madan Bhandari died in a car accident.
In 2006, she played a role in restoring democracy by leading demonstrations to help end former King Gyanendra’s reign. She was also a former defense minister from 2009-2011.
Bhandari said her election by Parliament is a first step toward assuring the new constitutional guarantees of equality will be fulfilled, according to Sydney Morning Herald.
The constitution, created in September, requires one-third of the country’s legislatures be women, and all government committees must also include women.
“I congratulate newly elected President Bidhya Bhandari,” Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar said in parliament after the counting of votes. “I offer my best wishes for a successful tenure.”