The Cabinet has not rejected the National Commission for Women and Children’s (NCWC) proposal that included introducing a women’s quota, the chairperson of NCWC, Lyonpo Dorji Choden clarified to this newspaper yesterday.

The works and human settlement minister said that it has been portrayed as if everyone was for quota and only the Cabinet was against it. “But the fact is that during the first national conference on women in politics in Bhutan, a lot of people, including women themselves, were against the quota system.”

Lyonpo Dorji Choden explained that the NCWC was then asked to work out a middle path and their recommendations included a gender-based nomination, meaning political parties would ensure a nomination of 33 percent of women candidates and for the National Council, gewogs could nominate a female and male candidate.

“But then it was also not found feasible because democracy is new and parties are struggling to get candidates,” the NCWC chairperson said.

She also added that the other issue with the proposal was that the Election Act has to be amended and acknowledging that it is too early for such an amendment, the government and NCWC will pursue educating and building women’s capacity to enhance their participation in elected offices as of now.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that the NCWC’s focus as of now is more on educating and creating a supportive environment for women to contest in elections.

The NCWC director Kunzang Lhamu said the national plan of action to promote gender equality is under consideration by the Cabinet.

She said NCWC submitted more clarity on the proposal as ordered by the Cabinet.

“The consultations with stakeholders held at the national level also ​resulted in the realisation and concerns expressed that the institution of quotas would require reforming existing systems and electoral laws,” Kunzang Lhamu said.

Tashi Dema