For the first time, Dagala Gup Gado, who has been the gup for the past 10 years and was re-elected recently, will head a gewog office filled entirely with women LG members. Residents of the remote gewog in Thimphu voted in six women representatives including the mangmi. 

If anything, the third Local Government election indicated some positive developments for Bhutanese women. It indicates a gradual preference for women local leaders.

From one female gup in 2011 and two in 2016, the country in this election elected seven women as gups and 22 mangmis. 

In 2011, of the 165 female candidates, 76 were elected which was 7 percent of the 1,102 candidates elected to various LG offices. One gup, 12 mangmis, 61 tshogpas, and two thromde tshogpas. 

This week a total of 1,437 have been elected to the various LG elective offices, and of that 185 or close to 13 percent are women. While most women have been elected as tshogpas, their contributions to building the trust and confidence of the constituents in women could pave the way for increased women participation in the future. 

An increased women’s participation in elective offices means that women have a better say in determining national priorities and shaping national agendas, as well as those that relate to the local governments as the direct and immediate institutions of decision-making. 

The possibility of the inclusiveness of all the population it represents in the elective offices is at the very heart of our democracy. For instance, in any election, it cannot be considered fully complete, until the full participation of women is ensured. 

Even with the recent progress, only women’s representation remains less than 2 for every 10 elected LG members. 

A glance at the number of women nominated and elected for this LG Elections makes it obvious that women are still underrepresented as candidates. The numbers clearly indicate the need to target the under-representation of women in various elective offices. 

We need to mainstream a gender perspective in elections for the full inclusiveness of women and more importantly, facilitate and educate women and women’s political ambition and interest in politics for now and in future. 

Real change needs political will and partnership. We must acknowledge that equal participation of women in the electoral process not only benefits society but is required to legitimise democracies.

The inclusion of women in political decision-making is not just about women’s right to equality and participation in elective offices. It is about using their recourses and potential to determine political and development priorities that can benefit communities. It is not a matter of right but getting it right.