Bring­ing women on board!

Business Bhutan - - Views Perspectives -

It’s heart­en­ing that the num­ber of as­pir­ing can­di­dates wish­ing to con­test in the Na­tional Coun­cil elec­tions has in­creased sub­stan­tially com­pared to the past. A to­tal of 142 as­pir­ing can­di­dates have reg­is­tered for the NC elec­tions as of Oc­to­ber last year. And while women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion as can­di­dates has also in­creased this time, it has been dis­mal com­pared to just seven women against the oth­ers who are all male can­di­dates. There is no deny­ing the fact that women’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion is presently dispir­it­ing in the par­lia­ment as well as the lo­cal gov­ern­ments. Even the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s Global Gen­der Gap re­port shows that women in Bhutan in elected po­si­tions are un­for­tu­nately rare – hav­ing been re­duced from eight to four of the 67 elected Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment in the 2013 elec­tions. So where are we go­ing wrong? It is, there­fore, timely and be­fit­ting that we ex­plore ini­tia­tives and poli­cies that might aug­ment women’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion in pol­i­tics. Women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a democ­racy is piv­otal. An in­creased women’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion in par­lia­ment or lo­cal gov­ern­ments for that mat­ter will en­sure that women’s voices are heard equally when it comes to mak­ing de­ci­sions that mostly af­fect their world. This im­por­tance is best summed up by Hil­lary Clin­ton, who says, “There can­not be true democ­racy un­less women’s voices are heard”. How­ever, in Bhutan, gen­der stereo­type has been iden­ti­fied as one rea­son for re­strict­ing women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the elec­toral pro­cesses. Many see women best suited to be teach­ers and a very few see women be­ing suited for elec­tive and top po­si­tions in gov­er­nance. Re­ports have also shown that women are not yet ad­e­quately rep­re­sented to­day de­spite po­si­tions in the higher lev­els of gov­ern­ment and de­ci­sion-mak­ing be­ing open to both gen­ders and place­ment of women in the higher strata of gov­ern­ment be­ing en­cour­aged. And a fewer women re­port­edly com­pared to men ex­press in­ter­est in par­tic­i­pat­ing in elec­tions as can­di­dates. Then there is also the no­tion that pol­i­tics is a male dom­i­nated field and that men make bet­ter politi­cians than women. Even most women, ac­cord­ing to re­ports, con­tinue to have the same be­lief. A sig­nif­i­cant or a ma­jor­ity have this no­tion that men are bet­ter lead­ers com­pared to women. This should sub­tly change if women are to make a dif­fer­ence. None­the­less, the con­sen­sus is that there should be more women’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion in elec­tive of­fices. This, how­ever, will not come easy or hap­pen in a day. More than fa­cil­i­tat­ing women’s en­try into pol­i­tics and chang­ing the present prac­tices or sys­tems, what is found want­ing for now is at­ti­tu­di­nal and be­hav­ioral changes against women that stems from the in­her­ited psy­che of so­ci­ety. It is only af­ter that where we can, per­haps, then en­vi­sion Face­book’s Sh­eryl Sand­berg’s world – a world where there will be no fe­male lead­ers in the fu­ture, but just only lead­ers.

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