Will women vot­ers vote for fe­male can­di­dates?

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Chen­cho Dema from Thim­phu

De­spite women at­tempt­ing for bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tion in pol­i­tics, fe­male can­di­dates do not get enough votes from women vot­ers. This was ev­i­dent in the past two elections. How­ever, what will hap­pen in the up­com­ing elec­tion is a wait and watch show. Can fe­male can­di­dates bank on fe­male vot­ers?

On March 5, 2008, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB) an­nounced that the fi­nal num­ber of reg­is­tered vot­ers for the Na­tional As­sem­bly elections were 318,465. The Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) then nom­i­nated six women and Druk Phuen­sum Tshogpa (DPT) nom­i­nated four. Four women were elected to the Na­tional As­sem­bly, where 14% women won.

Then in 2013 elections, four fe­male can­di­dates were elected - three from PDP and one from DPT. The to­tal num­ber of women par­tic­i­pa­tion from both the par­ties were 10, which saw just 8% of the women elected; though a fe­male cabi­net min­is­ter was elected and ap­pointed for the first time. There were 205,247 women vot­ers against 196,902 male vot­ers in 2013, ac­cord­ing to the ECB.

Druk Nyam­rup Tshogpa (DNT) has now de­clared five women can­di­dates, mak­ing up 10.85% of the can­di­da­ture. Two women can­di­dates will rep­re­sent PDP, mak­ing 4.25% of can­di­da­ture. DPT has five women can­di­dates. BKP has six women can­di­dates, in­clud­ing the party pres­i­dent Neten Zangmo.

The ECB has reg­is­tered 438,663 vot­ers for the elec­tion as of July, 2018 of which 224,550 are fe­male reg­is­tered vot­ers. A to­tal of 18 women can­di­dates and with 9.57% of women par­tic­i­pa­tion are there for the 2018 elections.

Mean­while, most peo­ple that Busi­ness Bhutan in­ter­viewed say, ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der, vot­ing was mainly done

look­ing at a can­di­date’s cred­i­bil­ity, com­pe­tency and qual­i­fi­ca­tion with per­son­al­i­ties. Nonethe­less, there also per­cep­tions that men are bet­ter and ca­pa­ble lead­ers than women, and women are not ca­pa­ble to be lead­ers or politi­cians.

A fe­male cor­po­rate em­ployee said the vote banks do not dis­crim­i­nate any gen­der and it’s the ca­pa­bil­ity of an in­di­vid­ual that drives the vot­ing.

“I am a woman and I would be happy to vote for a woman, pro­vided I find her ca­pa­ble,” she added.

An­other fe­male jour­nal­ist pur­su­ing her Mas­ters in Aus­tralia, Tara Limbu said one can­not blame just women vot­ers for not sup­port­ing women when it comes to women not oc­cu­py­ing im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal port­fo­lios.

“A ma­jor­ity of Bhutanese vot­ers, ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der, un­der­stand­ably are re­sis­tant to change. There are so many rea­sons, his­tory in­cluded, which has cre­ated a vacuum when it comes to women lead­ers in the coun­try,” she added.

A ra­dio jockey, Su­mi­tra Prad­han, says that women should now come for­ward.

“Women are the prob­lem; they are given the plat­form but don’t grab the op­por­tu­nity and un­der­es­ti­mate their own ca­pa­bil­ity. Es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas, women’s no­tion about women be­ing in­fe­rior should be changed. They are self-doubter. They should take a chance and stand,” she added.

A cul­tural re­searcher with Lo­den Foun­da­tion, Samten Yeshi said there is no such logic that women should vote for women and men for men.

“Ev­ery can­di­date or any in­di­vid­ual wish­ing to earn merit of lead­er­ship shall present their lead­er­ship ca­pa­bil­i­ties. They should have enough ca­pa­bil­i­ties backed by strate­gies that can move the vot­ers to their side,” he added.

A 34-year-old pri­vate em­ployee, Zangmo said, “In some cases, it might be true while in some it might not. Vote of a woman de­pend on the can­di­da­ture and for me it is their per­son­al­ity and courage. The up­com­ing fe­male can­di­dates should be bold, bring in re­al­is­tic strate­gies and be ac­tion-ori­ented in­stead of just mak­ing prom­ises.”

A NGO em­ployee, Ten­zin Rab­gye, said he does not agree that Bhutanese women don’t vote for women. “They prob­a­bly haven’t been com­fort­able with the can­di­dates that have been pre­sented un­til now. I think it’s more a question of women who can con­vince vot­ers that they are the best op­tion.”

A travel agent, Chimi Delker said women can­di­dates need to be more vo­cal and more con­fi­dent and be able to con­vince the peo­ple they seek votes from.

A Sherubtse grad­u­ate, Sonam Yon­ten Gyelt­shen, said, “Bhutan is not gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be suf­fer­ing from women op­pres­sive so­ci­ety. It how­ever is largely pa­tri­ar­chal just as the ma­jor­ity of the world.”

Within SAARC coun­tries, Bhutan has only 8.3% women in na­tional pol­i­tics - the fifth in the re­gion – al­beit pro­claim­ing it­self as a gen­der neu­tral coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bhutan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.