Nine women candidates to contest NC elections

They comprise only 5% of the total aspirant candidates

Only nine women candidates have registered with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) for the upcoming National Council (NC) elections, comprising 5% of the total aspirant candidates.

So far, a total of 172 candidates have registered with the commission for the NC elections.

Punakha has two women candidates while Dagana, Tsirang, Pemagatshel, Trashiyangtse, Mongar, Samdrup Jongkhar and Chukhha have one woman candidate each.

In 2013 NC elections, only four women contested but not a single one got elected.

Kencho Wangmo, 41, aspirant candidate from Tsirang said that the reasons for less women aspirants coming up could be many. “One thing I have noticed is that women usually tend to have low self confidence in comparison to men,” she said.

She also said that there are other social issues such as women having to raise a family, lack of support from other women and gender bias.

Tshewang Lhamo, aspirant candidate from Chukha said that female participation is still low and that more women should come forward. “Women don’t support women candidates,” she said.

She is re-contesting for the second time. In 2013, she did not lose with a huge margin. “I would want to prove that what men can do, women can do as well.”

Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) conducted a three-day workshop for women aspirant candidates last week where they gathered to discuss on the theme “leading for change”-a program on leadership, communication and campaigns skills for women aspiring to contest in the NC elections.

The Executive Director of BNEW, Phuntshok Choden said that the workshop was a preparatory workshop for the women candidates.

She said that the workshop was conducted mainly to increase the confidence of and support women participants.

“We feel that women need a lot of support from their counterparts,” she said.

Dechen Zangmo, a candidate from Punakha said that the workshop helped the candidates to know more about the NC and how to approach the campaign.

Chador Wangmo, another candidate from Dagana said that the workshop was a big motivator.

Phuntshok Choden said that BNEW is hopeful that more women candidates will come forward to contest the NC elections.

According to the Election Act, the last date for the acceptance of nominations must not be later than the 30th day after the issuance of the notification calling for elections.

Both the notification calling for elections and the last date of acceptance of nominations for NC elections are yet to be announced by the ECB.

The council election is scheduled from February to May this year.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu