The time cannot be more befitting than now. Women have been at the centre of most events this month. And as we are about to embrace the next month, it’s heartening, therefore, that the beginning is with another significant event – a National Consultation Conference on Women in Politics from April 1-2.
Such initiatives from BNEW and NCWC would certainly go a long way in our efforts to empower women. And there is no denying the significance of women’s participation in a democracy. Even Hillary Clinton once famously remarked – “There cannot be true democracy unless women’s voices are heard.”
These initiatives, therefore, bode well for our democracy as an increased women’s representation in Parliament or local governments for that matter will ensure that women’s voices are heard equally when it comes to making decisions that mostly affect their world.
Women’s representation is presently dispiriting in the Parliament as well as the local governments. Even the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report which was recently launched exhibits that women in Bhutan in elected positions are unfortunately rare – having been reduced from eight to four of the 67 elected Members of Parliament in the 2013 elections.
Further, the report states that women are not yet adequately represented despite positions in the higher levels of government and decision-making being open to both genders and placement of women in the higher strata of government being encouraged.
What is, therefore, going wrong when it comes to women taking political berth or assuming higher offices in the country?
Many purport the notion that politics is a male dominated field – that a man makes a better politician than a woman. Even most women continue to have the same belief as well. This notion should subtly change if women are to make a difference or if this existing number is to change. If instances are anything to go by, stereotypical attitude against women, which is rampant in rural areas, perhaps has also obstructed women from being elected in politics.
More than facilitating women’s entry into politics, what is found wanting for now is attitudinal and behavioral changes against women that stems from the inherited psyche of society. The rest would then follow accordingly.