Two political parties from the already existing ones have surfaced up recently, promising better choices to the people and with different ideologies. And there is also a rumor of the fifth party in the making.
While the old parties are busy approaching its former candidates, strategizing their slogan, logo and ideologies amidst the worry of running out of time to settle old party dues; new parties are devising ways to have more women representation in their party.
But will more women come forth? The stance of Bhutanese women in politics would definitely be something to witness as we build up to the 2013 elections.
How many of them have been approached by political parties as of now? How many of them are mulling over resigning from work or taking a break from home? And how many actually believe that they can make a change?
The women voters’ turnout was exemplary in the last election, with the number exceeding that of the male voters. But the same wasn’t the case when it was about women contesting election. They were simply uninterested or shied away.
Similar thing is happening even today. For instance, four out of six former female candidates of PDP have opted to stay away from politics.
Their responsibilities as homemaker and having to look after the family, calling politics as a male-dominated arena and personal issues were cited as reasons for their refusal to enter politics.
It seems the number of females venturing into politics won’t change. We have today a combined 14% women representation in the parliament and 0.1% women representation in the local government.
Against this backdrop, there are also debates rife whether gender quotas should be introduced to bring about proportionate representation of women in the government. Whether Bhutan should have a quota system introduced through national legislation or through political parties?
No denying, quota rule has helped increase women’s representation in the parliament. But is a quota system in Bhutan absolutely necessary? And what do we want to have eventually- quality representation or quantity representation?
We proclaim that there is no discrimination against women. We proclaim that the stereotypical attitude against women has not obstructed them from being elected in politics. But this is far from being true.
A majority still has this belief even today that a man makes a better politician than a woman. We have facilitated women’s entry into politics, but sadly we continue to have this same standpoint. [June 3, 2012]