Legislation: While the government desired to introduce a 20 percent quota for women in all elected offices, consultative meetings with stakeholders have resulted in the government dropping this pledge.

This was revealed yesterday during the Meet-the-Press session by works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that the government had promised to draft legislation to introduce a 20 percent quota for women in all elected offices so that women could take part in the development process and political life.

She also said a quota is necessary, especially given the context that there are more girls in school than boys and a good number of women involved in business and therefore it is also a must to have an equal number of women in politics.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), as the focal national agency for women and children, held several rounds of consultation with stakeholders, including National Assembly members, civil servants and those in the private sector, to discuss and take the government’s desire forward.

“The findings from the consultations was that quota for women as such was not acceptable,” she said. “That is why NCWC said quota is not practical.”

Lyonpo, however, said the consultative meetings found out that the government should opt for other programmes to provide more education to women like leadership education and economic empowerment which would practically build women’s capacity so that they can, in due course of time, participate in politics and all development spheres.

She also said that NCWC has developed countrywide programmes in order to provide awareness to women on leadership, counselling, and mentoring. “We did not draft a legislation but we are building women’s capacity.”

The works and human settlement minister also said women have taken a “good” and “proud” stand on the issue to show that they can compete with men instead of simply accepting free seats.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that while he differs with NCWC’s decision, the government will abide by it. “The government will do whatever is required besides quota, to build women’s capacity, for instance enhance loans for women.”

He said that there is a need to do more and cited that of 26,954 civil servants, 9,509 are women, which comprises 35.5 percent. “That is good. But in the executive level, of 143, only 12 are women.”

He also said that at the local government, there are only two gups and that in the National Council, there would be none if not for the eminent members. “Even in National Assembly, the number is too less, far from good and in the Cabinet, only one.”

The Prime Minister also said RCSC should be able to do something at the executive level since they do not need quota.

Tashi Dema