Feminists and leftists in general are celebrating progress in Nepal after the South Asian country’s Parliament elected Bidhya Devi Bhandari president on Wednesday. She is the first female president in a region with few female political leaders. After 240 years as a Hindu monarchy, Nepal became a secular republic in 2008 after its final king relinquished sovereign power to the public in response to a pro-democracy movement that gained force in 2006. The presidency is a ceremonial office, but with the election of the 54-year-old Bhandari—a longtime campaigner for democracy and female equality and former deputy leader of the country’s Communist Party—Nepal has gained a credible moral leader as a figurehead. The new constitution, which Bhandari is credited with having helped shape, requires the president or vice president and one-third of Nepal’s Parliament to be female.