Bringing women on board

At a time when we are talking about whether we should allot quotas to encourage women to join politics and vie for positions in the local governments, we are witnessing a welcome development in some quarters of the country. The signs are encouraging.

The dzongkhag election office in Samdrupjongkhar yesterday saw 188 candidates register for the functional literacy test, which is an essential requirement for anyone who wishes to stand for positions of responsibility in the local government. Of the 188 registered candidates, 62 were women.

Allotting quota for women became an issue in the Parliament and it was widely debated. We have yet not arrived at a point in the debate where we are clear about whether we should have reserved quotas for women. The debate will continue because a large section of women find reserving quotas for the female lot largely demeaning and deeply patronising.

There are ways to encourage women to participate in positions of responsibility. Allotting quotas is not one. Allotting quotas for women might help achieve some narrow and short-term gains. But it is important that we look at the greater, wider and long-term achievement of our society.

Change doesn’t come overnight; we must create right environment if change must take place. It takes effort and time.

The majority of women who registered for the functional literacy test are aiming to fill the small local government positions. And that’s all right. They see things from a better vantage point. For them, it is the experience that is important, which will allow them to serve their community better. They mean not only to stay, but more importantly, to contribute to the society far into the future.

This is the true testimony to what can be achieved through awareness programmes about women participation in politics and positions of responsibility.  Nongovernmental organisations and Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) have done a commendable job. That’s the way, the right way, to go. Come next election, there is every reason to hope that there will be greater women participation.

We already have fair number of women in the positions of power. This is encouraging our young women to climb up the ladder and take greater responsibilities of shaping our society and making of our nation. In the rural pockets of the country, non-formal education is playing its part in empowering our women. These are all positive signs.

What we must now focus on is how better to encourage our women to step forward. Perspectives are important; the more varied we have, the better.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    Decision making today may not necessarily be considered quite an art. It doesn’t even involve a scientific process that’s predominantly governed by an individualistic philosophy. But being a leader, one even needs to take individualistic decisions for everyone he represents rather than simply accepting or denying a popular decision making process.

    The beauty of a democratic system is that it not only allows one the freedom of individualism as a leader, it even allows one to avail the balancing forces of collectivism. So we can always expect decision making to be a total process as well as a procedure in a democratic setup.

    Today’s decision making involved in governance or even in business is becoming more about a well documented arrangement that only needs to be managed so that we all match that criteria based mechanism. But that mechanism is no more about application of science or an art. It’s more about calculations for a specific administration procedure.

    When a procedure itself is highly a gender neutral process to follow, a debate about whether women should be encouraged to join politics makes no significant sense. It’s more about whether they are willing to join politics or not. Skills required to run the management of an application based arrangement can’t discriminate women from men in a field like governance.

    But at the same time, we simply can’t allow a well documented decision making criteria to become a totalitarian procedure in place for every decision making philosophy. For change to happen, there is a need that a leadership can introduce individualistic attributes to gain more out of collectivism offered through a democratic system. Both men and women can contribute here and they can always contribute equally provided we all understand a bi-polar governing philosophy in decision making along with the management of the arrangements in place.

    Whether it’s a man thinking like a woman or a woman thinking like a man; one needs to think like a leader in one mind involved for governance in general or politics in particular. Leadership itself can always be considered an unique psychology and it’s a debatable statement for sure.

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