Is Bhutan ready to say, ‘La! Aum Lyonchen?’

Is Bhutan ready for a woman Prime Minister? This remains a question as less than 14% of women represent Parliament, and with the first ever local government elections held in June, 2011, less than 5% of the newly elected local leaders are women.

To encourage women in active participation in politics, decision making and governing, a documentary titled “La! Aum Lyonchen’ (‘Yes! Madam Prime Minister’) will be released by KCD production, supported by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD).

Featuring female politicians from Denmark– which is like Bhutan both a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy – the film seeks to inspire and support the political aspirations of the women of Bhutan.

Denmark has seen noticeable progress ever since women were granted the right to vote in 1915 and especially in 2011, when the first female Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, was elected.

With the 2013 National Assembly elections around the corner, the title, “La, Aum Lyonchen” was coined to involve interest and open up the possibility that Bhutan may be ready to think of women as leaders in the highest positions.

According to KCD production’s Kesang Chuki Dorjee, the main objective behind the project is getting policy makers and the public to realize that the vast potential of this population is still untapped. Another is to show the value of having more women decision makers to improve the quality of life in Bhutan, she added.

Everybody agrees that women are the cornerstones of the family. So what’s good for the family is good for the nation, she said. “I believe Bhutan is ready to have more women leaders; if there is a capable woman candidate interested to run, why shouldn’t she aspire to become the next Prime Minister?”

Kesang Chuki Dorjee said that cultural and social perceptions seem to be a major hurdle for women’s participation and “this is something we are trying to address through our work”.

“Why not?” asked the Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay, “Our people should choose leaders based on their ability to understand and fulfill their aspirations, and not based on the age, ethnicity, religion, wealth or gender of the candidate so by this measure, women should enjoy as much opportunity as men to assume positions of political leadership, and that includes the post of prime minister.”

He added that the political landscape is already dominated by men. The longer women hesitate, the more difficult it will become for women to enter and succeed in politics in the future adding “It’s already late”, so capable women should not hesitate to take part in active politics and assume leadership positions in the Bhutanese democracy.

Also in favor of a woman Prime Minister is the Head of Community Outreach Unit of Respect Educate and Empower Women (RENEW), Meenakshi Rai who said, “We are looking forward to a woman Prime Minister; we never had one and in fact we want to try it once”.

“Personally, given an opportunity I think women are capable and there is no right or wrong time but it depends on public decision,” said member of National Council Pema Lhamo. Member of Parliament Tshering Tenzin called it a “fantastic idea”.

“But she should have the capacity to earn people’s trust and confidence and experiences within and outside the country in governance.” But there are those who do not agree. Director of Royal Institue of Health Sciences (RIHS), Dr Chencho Dorji, said that Bhutan is too young a democracy to have a woman prime minister and “we don’t even have any woman capable enough to take up the responsibilty”.

Meanwhile, ‘La! Aum Lyonchen” is in progress. The crew will be traveling to Denmark along with a Member of the National Council and National Assembly, to talk to women leaders there. The project is expected to be complete by August and will be broadcast on national television.

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  1. This is interesting. Women are capable, we need them to be Ministers as well as PM. But the current bunch of them in the Upper House and Lower House are not ready, neither do they criticise nor able to provide any substantial constructive contribution with the few exception of one or two. In fact, some of them must be feeling guilty of drawing huge salary leading to INR crunch and contributing nothing. But we are hopeful…in future. We need women leader to lead our government during the third tennure of the government. We have some of the excellent women in the senior positions with proven track record of excellence and transformational leadership quality- above all whom the people of this nation can trust with full confidence. We are optimistic that latest by the third tenure of the government we might get a lady Prime Minister with full commitment and dedication to make a real difference to the people of Bhutan. Some of our women are exemplary, we respect them highly. But for the coming second tenure of the government, I bet the current Lyonchen is the candidate- Bhutan is bestowed in getting such a rare and gifted man, we are proud of this bald-headed man for his immense contribution and farsightedness, although he has his own shortcoming like any other human being! We definitely like to see the female PM during the third tennure of the Govt, best wishes to all our potential female candidate- my vote is for them, not based on gender but on their competencies and ability.

  2. Who could be the potential lady… other than the current Chairperson of ACC. Bhutan is lucky to get such gifted person …. me, personally, I believe one of the most important quality the PM should have is whom we can trust. It is something we are able to trust our current PM and ACC Chairperson. Of course other important qualities needed are experiences, qualification, leadership traits………….Aum ACC to Aum Lyonchen, but may be during the third tennure of the govt. Sometimes, my prediction seems to happens…..lets wait and watch..ha..haaaaaaaaaaaa

  3. no problem. but no quota!

  4. Glorified Clerk

    Women of Bhutan loves playing khuru and cards. Hope there are some who aspire to be PM one day also?

  5. In the present climate where corruption seems to be the order of the day, the only appropriate women candidate for the PM post would be aum Neten of the ACC. She seems to be the only person in the whole government machinery who seems to be serious about tackling this scourge called corruption. 

  6. while i really appreciate the appetite that Aum Neten has shown towards fighting corruption…there is Aum Dorji Choden who always comes to my mind and she was equally involved in fighting corruption in our country.

  7. I do not understand why we Bhutanese always think of people who have been there in the limelight as potential women lyonchhen candidates like aum neten and aum dorji choden. I dont know about dorji choden but aum neten – definately no. First of all she has no personality. Secondly, her approach is always very short sighted. For instance in the last few years ACC has caused distress for many common people who were taken to task for corruption even for meagre amount. If she really wants get rid of corruption she should correct the system rather than fixing individuals. So far only small and common people have got fixed while big fishes have not been fixed. Look at the gyelpoyzhing case – nobody has got fixed so far and since it iw now with OAG who will protect the govt. it will get dissolved and they will be declared clean. In my view ACC has created more problems in the society today rather tha addressing the root issues of corruption. We definately cannot have her as our PM. In my view, aum lily wangchuck is definately a candidate worth considering. She is honest, genuine, intelligent and well meaning for common people. i think she will really work for the common people and I woud like to see her as our next leader

  8. Dorji Namgyel

    Till now I have heard only two names dorji choden and lily wangchuk and I think both have the huge potential to be our lyonchhen. I believe women can be better leaders than men as they are more caring, less porne to corruption, more sincere and hardworking. There has been positive changes in many countries with women leaders. I will surely support either dorji choden or lily wangchuck. Please come forward bhutanese women and show the country you can do it better!

  9. I would like to echo Sonam and Dorji about Aum Lily Wangchuck. I am her biggest fan and she can do far better than all the current women MP put together……

  10. The documentary was very educative and I hope aum lily wangchuk who is the only women so far which two poilitical parties have approached will come forward and be the voice of all women of Bhutan

  11. For me, I neither want dasho neten or aum dorji choden but aum lily wangchuk as she is young, dynamic, intelligent. aum lily will do all of us proud.

  12. Only Honourable Aum Neten is eligible for PM and rest are all connected to Corruption Family.Bhutan don’t trust any female leader except Aum Neten.

  13. Please do not say woman are less prone to corruptions. It is said that “Behind Every Great Man, there is a Woman Behind”. In Gyelpozhing land case also most of the plots are registered in the names of spouses/ wives. So there is a problem for everything.

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