Women are not overly zealous in becoming elected leaders, as the few that contest do not get elected while others are currently more comfortable in staying away. However, there are a few women breaking old stereotypes in the political world.
One such woman is Namgay Pelden. She contested for the Gup post in 2011 and won with an overwhelming voter support. Thus, she created history as the first woman elected as Gup in the country.
As the incumbent Gup, Namgay Pelden is keyed up for the upcoming election. She said that she has garnered strength and experience over the past five years as a Gup, and she is confident of being elected yet again, as she thoroughly understands the needs and challenges in her gewog.
Namgay Pelden also shared that she is overjoyed this time as more women are aspiring to participate in the upcoming election, unlike the First Local Government Election where only a few came forward.
She shared it was challenging, being the sole woman Gup, to raise issues concerning women and children during the conferences, like the 205 Gewog Gup conference, Dzongkhag Yargey Tshogdu, etc.
In addition, she said that having a woman head in the gewog helps to resolve issues that women confront in the geowg.
“I will re-contest, bearing in mind that women need more women representatives,” Gup Namgay Pelden said.
Sharing her experience, Namgay Pelden said that having women in politics improves the social wellbeing in the country with remarkable positive changes for weaker sections of society and helps to alleviate poverty.
She added, “Women are the secret and valuable human resource untouched in Bhutanese politics.” She said that right from the beginning, she always believed in the importance of more women participation as they make valuable contributions at the local and national level.
“Women can bring different set of values, experiences and expertise to politics, thereby enriching the political environment and contributing to the quality of decisions and policies,” she added.
She said that she is humbled by the support given by the people so far, and she pledged to do more for the cause of the people and gewog, if she gets re-elected.
When asked about the reason why most women turn away from politics, she said that most of them are very shy as they find it as a risky venture or profession.
“The rest find that participating in politics is embarrassing, mainly due to lack of support and trust from the voters. However, some are really forthcoming and they have keen interest,” the Gup said.
Meanwhile, in an effort to encourage more women candidates to participate in the upcoming election, various advocacy and awareness program are being conducted by various organizations.
Bhutan Network for Empowering Women has already trained 1,474 women to contest in the upcoming elections, believing that women are a powerful agent to bring about change in the society.
With support from various organizations dedicated to empowering women in Bhutan, many women are now aspiring to run in the Second Local Government Elections.
However, what the final outcome will be remains to be seen in terms of final participation and the results.