Lhuntse’s lone woman Gup candidate stands up to five male rivals and societal bias

37-year-old Karma Cheki from Gangzur Gewog in Lhuntse is vying for the post of Gup in the upcoming Local Government election. She is the lone woman candidate competing for the post against five male candidates. The incumbent Gup Karma has decided not to re-contest.

Karma Cheki said she was encouraged by the people who saw the potential in her to become a local leader. In addition, she has been thoroughly preparing for the upcoming election soon after the first local government election concluded in 2011.

“I see the significance of women in politics, and I decided to take part in it,” Karma Cheki said.

Sharing her views on the opportunities, challenges and issues concerning women, she stressed on the importance of women’s participation in politics for a vibrant democracy.

She noted that women face numerous challenges while participating in civic and political life due to gender disparity and violence, and also the lack of support. She added that Bhutanese women, especially the illiterate and poor women residing in rural areas, face more difficulties in asserting their rights.

Karma Cheki said that it is through democratic representation that women’s interest can be represented and their voices heard. Further, she said that her participation would serve as an example and inspire more Bhutanese women to join politics.

Her hope is to encourage and motivate other capable and dedicated women to participate in the democratic process. She said it is her personal belief that women politicians can be more focused and determined in setting up things in the right direction, with high integrity and transparency.

She also opined that increasing women’s representation in politics can empower women and a maximum women’s representation in the government is necessary to achieve gender parity.

Karma Cheki has studied till ninth standard in Tangmachu Middle Secondary School and is settled in Lhuntse, running a small business.

She said that she has been in the village since birth, and knows better about the problems and needs of the gewog and its people. Therefore, she is confident that she will give a good competition to the male candidates.

She said that she will not require much effort in getting to know the people as the voters in the gewog are better acquainted with her.

As of now, she is pleased with the encouragement from the people who have never deterred her from participating in the upcoming election.

“Given all the support and trust, I will never disappoint them,” Karma Cheki said. She is one among 1,474 women who received training and inspiration from Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) and she has successfully completed her Functional Literacy Test.

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