Bhutan which claims to be an egalitarian society does not have quota for women in power.Most other SAARC countries like India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh have reserved seats for women in politics and governance.
In the first South Asian Conference on Empowering Women and Gender Equality, a two-day program in Thimphu, the issue was discussed.
However, according to the Chief Election Commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, the constitution states that there should be no discrimination between men and women.
“Our political parties emphasize women participation and we encourage them and motivate more women to participate,” he said adding that “if we were to endorse quota system, we are unnecessarily trying to impose numbers. What counts is quality leadership and not the number.”
Tshewang Lhamo from National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) also supported the idea saying that the commission members had extensive discussions with women representatives and they were not in favor of quota system in politics as well as governance.
The Founding President of Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE), Aum Damchoe Dem, said understanding economic empowerment is important without which women will not be benefitted at all by a quota system. “I don’t think it’s time to move ahead with the quota,” she said.
“We have to first see if it was implemented successfully in other countries, she added. “We have to take a right decision at the right time.”
One of the participants said that it is not wise to accept the quota system and that Bhutan needs to conduct a serious study on whether or not the country’s cultural structure and circumstances are such that it can be implemented.
“Only if we have sufficient reason, then yes!” he added.
According to him, the young Bhutanese democracy would do well with advocacies, trainings and education programs for women so that rate of women participation increases over time.