Women can be politi­cians too!

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Thuk­ten Zangpo

Women can­not, women are for bear­ing and car­ing a child, women are for house­hold choirs, voices echoed in lost his­tory.

Now, there is a ris­ing calls for more women to par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics, how­ever, there’s some­thing keep­ing them out as was dis­cussed dur­ing the third na­tional con­fer­ence on women in pol­i­tics, lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance in Thim­phu on Novem­ber 27-28.

“Var­i­ous stud­ies on women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in pol­i­tics have been con­ducted, and all the stud­ies point to­wards sim­i­lar fac­tors con­tribut­ing to lesser num­bers of women par­tic­i­pat­ing, stereo­types and prej­u­dices, lower self con­fi­dence, and lit­er­ary lev­els, triple bur­den of women and the lack of en­abling en­vi­ron­ment,” Kun­zang Lhamu, Di­rec­tor, Na­tional Comis­sion for Women and Chil­dren (NCWC) said.

The United Na­tions Res­i­dent Co­or­di­na­tor, Bhutan, Ger­ald Daly also said,“The in­clu­sion of women in po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion mak­ing is not just about women’s rights to equal­ity and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the elec­tives of­fice, it is also about us­ing women’s po­ten­tial to de­ter­mine po­lit­i­cal and devel­op­ment pri­or­i­ties that ben­e­fit the so­ci­ety at large,” Ger­ald Daly, UN Res­i­dent Co­or­di­na­tor, Bhutan.

“A par­lia­ment should be as di­verse as the pop­u­la­tion it is rep­re­sent­ing both re­gard­ing dis­abil­i­ties, sex­u­al­ity and mi­nori­ties, but also re­gard­ing gen­der. When a par­lia­ment re­flects the pop­u­la­tion it rep­re­sents, it is able to take bet­ter and more qual­i­fied de­ci­sions for the coun­try as a whole, as all voices have been heard,” Pia Olsen Dhyr, MP and Leader of So­cial­ist Peo­ple’s Party, Den­mark said.

In the two days event, fe­male Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPs), Gups, Mang­mis, oth­ers who had con­tested, shared their ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing elec­tions and it shed light on the dif­fi­cul­ties they faced.

“I al­most gave up pol­i­tics but re­ju­ve­nate when elec­tion was near­ing. I am cit­i­zen of the coun­try and I have right to par­tic­i­pate,” MP, Tshe­wang Lhamu said.

Talking on hav­ing greater di­ver­sity in the po­lit­i­cal agenda where leade­ship is male dom­i­nant, Vice Pres­i­dent of Druk Phuen­sum Tshogpa, Lily Wangchuk said,“It is not the re­spon­si­bil­ity of peo­ple in the room but shared re­spon­si­bil­ity of men and women.”

For­mer Mangmi, Dogar, Paro, Tsheten Zangmo also shared that peo­ple fa­vor men as their leader due to their mind­set to choose and said, “I have served

equiv­a­lent to males but I dont want to com­mit that i have did bet­ter than male.”

Mangmi, Shong­phu, Trashigang, Dhendup Dema said that the mind­set on peo­ple should be changed on what can a women do and how she is go­ing to work if she gets con­ceived.

Gup con­tes­tant from Pema Gat­shel, Lhaki Wangmo sug­gested that one has to be pop­u­lar to win the elec­tion and able to di­gests the crit­i­cisms from peo­ple.

“I did not get sup­port from fam­ily mem­bers, said Sonam Dema, a Gup con­tes­tant from Sa­mar Ge­wog, Haa. “I did not find women dif­fer­ent from men in par­ti­ci­a­p­at­ing in the pol­i­tics. Women can do what men can do,” she said adamantly and wants to par­tic­i­pate again.

MP, Norbu Wang­zom aslo shared her hur­dles in hav­ing sup­port from fam­ily mem­bers, “If we have will, we can do it,” she added.

Giv­ing the sce­nario of the Bhutanese sta­tus in author­ity, Ger­ald Daly said that the Bhutanese women now holds var­i­ous gov­ern­ment posts at the high­est de­ci­sion mak­ing bod­ies.

In ad­di­tion, he said that for more women to par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics, there needs to pro­vide men­tor­ing and on the job train­ing.

“Women, all over the world and in Bhutan are still un­der-rep­re­sented in elected po­si­tions and most coun­tries are far from reach­ing the gen­der bal­ance,” Ger­ald Daly said.

He asked men to equally part­ner with women in ad­vanc­ing women into lead­er­ship po­si­tions. “Let us all start by em­pow­er­ing our women, young and old, to en­sure that ev­ery woman is valu­able and de­serv­ing of ev­ery chance and op­por­tu­nity in the world to be equal as men in ev­ery sphere of their lives,” he added.

The sec­ond day also saw dis­cus­sions on the need of hav­ing quota for women in pol­i­tics. On quota sys­tem, Dr Binda Pandey, MP, Nepal said,“Af­ter strug­gling for 25 long years, we fi­nally have quota form women in Nepal. But there is still a long way to go to make tan­gi­ble achieve­ments.”

“Quo­tas im­prove the num­ber of women in pol­i­tics. This has been proven in many dif­fer­ent coun­try con­texts. But quo­tas are not re­spon­si­ble for the way so­ci­ety treats women po­lit­i­cal lead­ers. We need to look much deeper at our so­cial and cul­tural norms and start valu­ing the con­tri­bu­tion that women can and do make to pol­i­tics, lead­er­ship, and gov­er­nance,” So­nia Palmier, con­sul­tant to NCWC said.

In the clos­ing re­mark, Wangchuk Nam­gyel, Na­tional As­sem­bly Speaker said,“We can­not rest, ours is a small coun­try. We can bring about change quickly. We can do some­thing to in­crease the num­ber of women in leade­ship po­si­tions. We need the num­bers. Num­bers mat­ter.”

The two days event also recog­nised po­lit­i­cal par­ties, me­dia, and in­di­vid­u­als for their par­tic­i­pa­tion, stamina, and per­se­v­er­ence in push­ing the gen­der agenda in pol­i­tics, lead­er­ship, and gov­er­nance.

The ob­jec­tives of the con- fer­ence was to en­hance vis­i­bil­ity and voice of Bhutan in pol­i­tics, lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance in Bhutan.

Presently, there are one women min­is­ter, four MPs in Na­tional Coun­cil, seven MPs in Na­tional As­sem­bly, three thromde rep­re­sen­ta­tives, nine thromde tshog­pas, two gups, 24 mang­mis and 136 tshog­pas.

World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s Global Gen­der Gap Re­port 2017 ranks Bhutan 124 out of 144 coun­tries, mostly due to its eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion and po­lit­i­cal em­pow­er­ment in­di­ca­tors.

The stake­hold­ers meet­ing was con­ducted among mem­bers of par­lia­ment, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of lo­cal gov­ern­ment elected and non-elected, civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions, me­dia and other rel­e­vant agen­cies.

There is a ris­ing calls for more women to par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics, how­ever, there’s some­thing keep­ing them out as was dis­cussed dur­ing the third na­tional con­fer­ence on women in pol­i­tics, lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance in Thim­phu on Novem­ber 27-28.

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