Women & politics

It’s just not easy for women to get into politics. At least this is what many of the surveys and studies have been indicating so.

This predicament is further espoused by the report on the situation of low representation of women in elective offices that Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) released last week. It was timely and befitting too as we continue with our efforts to augment women’s representation in politics.

There is no denying the significance of women’s participation in a democracy. It’s pivotal. 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. This importance is best summed up by Hillary Clinton, who said, “There cannot be true democracy unless women’s voices are heard”.women

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 shows 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.

So where are we going wrong?

Firstly, gender stereotype has been identified as one reason for restricting women’s participation in the electoral processes. According to the ECB’s report, majority of the respondents feel that women are best suited to be teachers and a very few see women being suited for elective and top positions in governance.

Today, 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. This, going by the report, is found that fewer women compared to men express interest in participating in elections as candidates.

Then there is the notion that politics is a male dominated field and that men make better politician than women. Even most women continue to have the same belief as well. A significant percent of respondents believe as well that men are better leaders compared to women. This notion, therefore, should subtly change if women are to make a difference.

However, what is heartening going by the ECB’s report is the agreed perception among the majority of respondents, who feel that there should be more women’s representation in the elective offices. This, however, won’t come easy or happen in a day.

More than facilitating women’s entry into politics and changing the present practices or systems, what is found wanting for now is attitudinal and behavioral changes against women that stems from the inherited psyche of society. It’s only after that where we can, perhaps, then envision Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s world – a world where there will be no female leaders in the future, but just only leaders.

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