Bhutan parliamentarians recommend 30 percent nomination for women in politics, other decision-making roles

Bhutanese parliamentarians have recommended 30 percent nominations for women in politics and other decision-making roles to increase their participation in political, economic and social life

Apr 02, 2021
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Bhutanese parliamentarians have recommended 30 percent nominations for women in politics and other decision-making roles to increase their participation in political, economic and social life.

The Bhutan Women Parliamentary Caucus (BWPC) discussed and reviewed the gender scrutiny action plan and suggested that there is a need to encourage more women to participate in politics and leadership roles.

The MPs, who attended the three-day BWPC workshop in Paro recommended setting of 30 percent women nominations in political parties, executive positions, constitutional bodies and judiciary, according to Kuensel newspaper.

They said this would help and address the low representation of women in parliament, leadership and decision-making positions, local government and other institutions.

They also proposed creating awareness and advocacy programmes during constituency visits to address social, cultural, and traditional barriers that discourage women from participating in elections.

The number of women elected to parliament in Bhutan increased from 8.3 percent in the 2013 election to 15.2 percent in 2018 - the highest percentage of women in parliament in the country’s history. But, it is felt that the momentum needs to constantly build.

While women in Bhutan are treated far better and are more privileged than other countries, Bhutan is ranked at the bottom on gender equality in the global ranking due to minimal representation of women in politics.

In the BWPC workshop, which provides a platform for women parliamentarians and future candidates to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to promote the vision of an inclusive democracy in Bhutan, participants also proposed amending some acts, such as the Election Act, Local Government Act, Marriage Act, Child Adoption Act, and Domestic Violence Prevention Act to remove legal barriers while implementing the recommendations. Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) had conducted the workshop to consider the requirement of gender perspective while framing laws, policies and budget allocation.

MPs also proposed to convert the national gender equality policy into an Act.

According to the policy, the country has adopted multiple legal and policy frameworks to provide men and women with equal rights and participation in political, social, economic, and cultural lives.  However, there is still uneven mainstreaming of gender issues across laws, policies, programmes, and projects.

According to BNEW’s Executive Director Phuntshok Chhoden, there was equal opportunity for women to participate in elections but there were only nine elected women among 72 members. “The representation is even lesser in local government elections,” she was quoted by the newspaper.

Bhutan rank 131 out of 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap report 2020.

She said if there were improvements in women's engagement and empowerment, the country could pick up in global ranking. “There’s a need for an urgent intervention as the country’s place in the global ranking is worsening by the year.”

Chairperson of the Women, Children and Youth Committee of the National Assembly, Dorji Wangmo, said gender disparity in social norms and the culture was caused because many people still believe women are nine times inferior to men.

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