The number of contesting and elected women in Bhutan are comparatively lower than men. Less than 8 percent are nominated and elected to the National Assembly, the National Council and to the Local Governments. Despite the equal civil and political rights provided for women by the Constitution and electoral laws, the women participating in elections remains meager in number.
In response to this concern, a proposal for a quota system was raised which aimed to preserve 30 percent of the 47 seats in a political party to women which was to be incorporated in the Election Act. However, the Election Act was not amended by the National Assembly.
At present, the focus is on capacity building and creating an environment conducive for women to participate in the political field, both in the national and local levels. Creating such an environment meant providing women with facilities that would aid them in their traditional roles such as the establishment of childcare units, allowing them to participate further in political activities.
The encouragement of women participation is supported by the Election Commission of Bhutan, with its partners the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD) and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN).
An organization in Bhutan was also established as a result of the first ever national meeting of women elected at local and national level last March 2012 in Paro. The Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) organizes activities that aim to raise awareness and to strengthen the skills and confidence of female candidates. It welcomes both current and aspiring women in politics.
Other initiatives are being taken by the Election Commission to further encourage and increase the involvement of women in the political arena.
Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW). (n.d.). Retrieved from Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD): http://dipd.dk/partnerships/bhutan/bhutan-network-for-empowering-women/
Dema, K. (2015). From Quota System to Empowering Women. Retrieved from Kuensel: http://www.kuenselonline.com/from-quota-system-to-empowering-women/
Election Commission of Bhutan. (2014). Study of the Determinants of Voter’s Choice and Women’s Participation in Elective Offices in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Thimphu: Election Commission of Bhutan.
Home: BNEW Website. (n.d.). Retrieved from Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW): http://www.bnew.bt/