… out of six only two were elected in NA and one in NC this term

Chencho Dema

Punakha — The general elections have seen a notable decline in women’s representation, with only two women elected out of 47 Members of Parliament (MPs), marking the lowest in the past four parliamentary elections.

Both political parties nominated a mere six female candidates, a figure seen as inadequate given that 51 percent of the nation’s voters are female.

This declining trend raises concerns among many, with fears that it might discourage female participation in future elections, creating a potential lack of diversity in political representation.

Except for Samtse and Tsirang, the rest of the 18 dzongkhags have a greater number of female voters.

This election recorded a voter turnout of 65.6 percent out of the 496,836 eligible voters including 158,237 women.

The two elected female Bhuten Tendrel Party’s Dorji Wangmo, the NA elect from Kengkhar-Weringla constituency, Mongar and PDP’s Dimple Thapa of Ugyentse-Yoeseltse constituency of Samtse dzongkhag will now be a part of the Parliament’s five-woman squad. Two of the other three are the eminent members of the National Council.

Dorji Wangmo said, “I am quite disappointed that more females did not win since we need adequate women representation in the Parliament. Nevertheless, I will try to represent all the women of our population to the best of my ability.”

Dimple Thapa said that she would not be able to respond till the cooling-off period has passed.

People’s Democratic Party and Bhutan Tendrel Party fielded three female candidates each.

Dasho Dorji Choden of the Thrimshing constituency, Lekdhen Zangmo of Khar-Yurung, and Dimple Thapa of Ugyentse-Yoeseltse were the PDP candidates. The BTP candidates were Ugyen Dem from Khatoed-Laya, Dorji Wangmo from Khengkhar-Weringla, and Dechen Lhaden from Chhumig-Ura.

Dorji Wangmo won with 4,504, beating the PDP’s two-time candidate, Sonam Penjore.

She got 2,036 EVM votes and 2,468 postal ballots, while Sonam Penjore obtained 3,298 votes including 1,893 EVM votes.

PDP’s candidate from the Ugyentse-Yoeseltse constituency, Dimple Thapa secured a total of 5,284 votes, 1,053 postal and 4,231 EVM votes, beating BTP’s candidate, Pushpa R Humagai, who secured a total of 2,796 votes.

The constituency chose a female candidate over a male one, even though there were fewer female voters. Of the 8,080-voter turnout, 4,310 were male and 3,770 female.

Most surprisingly, a newcomer won the Thrimshing constituency, defeating Dasho Dorji Choden, the PDP’s first female minister and a seasoned politician. The vote difference was 237 votes.

The constituency had 2,944 female and 2,788 male voters casting their votes.

In Khatoed-Laya, Ugyen Dem lost to Lhaba Lhab by 466 votes, where 467 female voters and 443 male voters cast ballots. The Chhumig-Ura constituency had a voter turnout of 2,656 including 1,482 females.

Tshering Lhaden would have won over her PDP opponent Sonam Rinchen, who secured 236 more votes, if at least half the 1,482 female voters supported her.

Even though 3,324 more women than men cast ballots in the Khar-Yurung constituency, as opposed to 3,161 male voters, Lekdhen Zangmo got only 2,039 votes, while her opponent secured 4,448.

Although women’s representation in Bhutan has never been encouraging since the country’s 2008 democratic inception comparatively in the past a good number of female candidates have been elected in the past three elections.

The proportion of women represented in the Parliament is at its lowest point ever. There were 12 female MPs in the third parliament with six during the second Parliament and 10 during the first Parliament in 2008.

Norbu Wangzom, a former MP who has been involved in politics since its founding in 2008, said that to increase the number of women in parliament, political parties must nominate more female candidates.

Regardless of gender, voters, according to her, pay more attention to the party than individual candidates. She added that there would have been more if the BTP and PDP had chosen more female candidates from the East and West, respectively. Women would be more represented today than they were in the past.

Many said that the low number of women in the party or parliament is not surprising because there aren’t many women forthcoming, and even when they do, voters don’t support them.

Former Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa MP Karma Lhamo, who represented the Monggar seat and has been involved in politics since 2008. She said, “I believe it is underrepresented. It’s really strange, and despite significant efforts made by both parties to increase the number of women in parliament, there are currently just two of them.”

“We must honour the voters’ decision since that is what they chose. However, as a whole, we need to think about the issue seriously,” she said.

A female voter from Punakha said, “Female voters pointed out that lack of seriousness among political parties in taking better account of women’s increasing electoral participation is one of the major causes behind the low number of women candidates and their success in an election.”

A total of 26 women contested from five political parties in the primary round of election for the National Assembly on November 30. However, 20 exited the political arena as their parties

The majority of female candidates hailed from Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), with seven candidates each.