A step forward for women

A little more than half a year has passed, but 2012 will also be remembered as a year where women have sprung up to change or create history in the country.

It was first the Chief HRO of the agriculture ministry, Ngawang Pem, who was appointed as the Tsirang Dzongda (governor) in July this year.

Her appointment as the first woman dzongda signifies many things. It marks the entry of a woman assuming a post and responsibility that were hitherto dominated by males.

Similarly, history was being made when 42-year-old Drangpon Tashi Chhozom was appointed as the country’s first woman justice in the country’s highest appellate authority, the Supreme Court.

Well, whatever signs it may hold, the journey has, however, begun for women to assume greater roles and take up the highest offices in the country.

There cannot be a benign time than now as new emerging political parties are desperately in a lookout for female candidates for the next parliamentary elections which is just around the corner.

Similarly, a nationwide media advocacy campaign titled “La, Aum Lyonchhen” (Yes, Madam Prime Minister) has also been designed to encourage women to contest for the 2013 elections through financial assistance from the Danish Institute of Parties and Democracy.

Women in Bhutan

But how many would turn up? It is only time that would tell. But there is definitely a platform for women who want to come out, and bring change if they believe in one.

However, there is also a concern that it would be futile anticipating change if the present numbers are anything to go by.

Numerically, about less than 14% of women represent the Parliament in the country. The number is further dispiriting at the local government level. Women constitute less than 5% of the newly elected local leaders.

The notion that politics is a male dominated arena should subtly change if our women are to make a difference, or if this number is to change.

We have ample epitomes before us. Take for instance the German Chancellor Angela Merkel; she is ranked first in the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women. Interestingly, the list shows that three of the top five most powerful women are politicians, and there are eight heads of state.

The second and third on the list are the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff.

Our women are no less capable comparatively. They should emerge to create a niche outside from home and domestic chores, and demand that representation inch closer to parity.

For the time being, we could only contemplate what Hillary Clinton once famously said – “There cannot be true democracy unless women’s voices are heard.”

[September 1, 2012]




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