Women in politics: is it worth the fight?

The curtains have fallen on the fourth National Council elections. However, from the Election Commission of Bhutan’s (ECB) measures to tighten the belt to cut down on expenses, which in fact had bigger ramifications, to only a lone woman being elected to the hallowed NC rungs, there were some glaring lessons and messages left amidst the trail of the now bygone elections.

The response to women NC aspirants has been invariably pathetic as only a lone female candidate has been elected this time. Going by the common sense and said wisdom, the women candidates were qualified or considered to be formidable candidates who had the potential to lead or represent any organization.

However, logic, as always, fails to come to terms to reality when we know that more than 55 percent of our electorates are women. It is simply baffling as to why women just can’t seem to rally behind their likes and support them. Remember, women are the loudest when it comes to rallying for their rights and, at times, screaming for equal representation and a privileged quota. But to see them not getting elected or not supporting their likes, despite forming the majority of the electorate, is simply rocket science.

The ECB’s moves to not install Facilitation Booths and do away with Postal Ballot facilities were because voters are educated. Despite apprehension that voter turnout may decrease, with 54.64 percent of the electorate turning up to vote, it has increased.

This is contrary to the vision and development of any democratic institution, as the ECB’s role is to facilitate participation and not to curtail it. And, by putting a lid on facilities like the Postal Ballot and Facilitation Booths, the ECB seems to have taken a step backward instead of evolving into a vibrant democratic institution that enhances the fundamental rights of the voters and the citizens.

Finally, there is a growing sense that candidates representing a small and remote gewog, no matter how capable they are, simply have the lowest odds to get elected. Statistically, while they are already disadvantaged with fewer voter populations, the feeling of “Oneness, Our Likes, and Nepotism” comes to play. Being a small and close-knit community we simply can’t think beyond the ballot box and support someone who we don’t know or relate to, while we have the audacity to vote for a person who might as well be less deserving.

The fourth rounds of the NC elections have now been wrapped up. We, however, have the general elections soon approaching. Only time and outcomes will tell if we had been wise enough with our choices.