The path to women’s political participation in Bhutan

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The path to women’s political participation in Bhutan


Bhutanese citizens increasingly believe that women are capable of taking on leadership responsibilities. Photo: Yangchen C Rinzin

In Bhutan’s 2023 National Council elections, only one woman was elected to the NC from a female population of around 360,000. Despite progress in recent years, women still face challenges to political participation.

“Of course, it was also because they trusted my capability, but I have seen that the majority went by the party’s popularity in the particular constituency,” Norbu Wangzom, a 41-year-old former member of parliament representing Bhutan’s opposition party, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), said. Wangzom was elected to represent the Jomotshangkha Martshala constituency, located in the south-east of Bhutan, for the second time in 2018. “As long as they like the party, they did not mind voting for a woman,” she added, but they voted for her “not necessarily because they believed in a woman candidate.”  Regardless, Wangzom is committed to serving her constituents to the best of her ability.

Encouraged by her local community, Wangzom first contested and won a seat in Bhutan’s National Council elections in 2008. As a newcomer to politics, she recalled, her initial experience was quite positive. When she contested again in 2013, she lost her seat.

Click here to read the full article published by Himal Mag on 8 May 2023.

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