Bhutan Women Parliamentary Caucus Launched To Promote Gender Equality


It is expected to address the need for women role models at leadership and decision-making levels in Bhutan.

(Source: Facebook/Bhutan Network for Empowering Women)


By Tashi Dema | Kuensel

The National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) launched a joint initiative for gender equality on 14 Aug 2019 in Thimphu.

Called the Bhutan Women Parliamentary Caucus (BWPC), it is expected to address the need for women role models at leadership and decision-making levels by facilitating and supporting women leaders to be competent enough to gain society’s trust and confidence in their leadership.

What is the Bhutan Women Parliamentary Caucus?

It is a platform which is focused on showcasing women leadership. It will help to promote the voice and visibility of women, to gain the trust and confidence of society in the leadership of women, thereby increasing their chances of getting elected.

It is also a platform to ensure that women’s rights, gender equality, children’s rights and social agendas remain central in the work of the Parliament.

“Through this caucus, it will unite women in Parliament and outside to speak as one strong voice,” Phuntshok Choden said.

It will also provide capacity building for the elected, non-elected and potential women leaders. “It is not just for women and the parliament but inclusive.”

BWPC will also create a multi-stakeholders caucus to empower women MPs to be strong gender advocates within their parties, parliamentary committees and in the Parliament.

Aims of the Bhutan Women Parliamentary Caucus

BWPC will be a visible and inclusive platform for women political actors, aspirants and supporters to come together, network, dialogue, advocate and inspire each other to further the goal of gender equality in elected offices and leadership in all spheres.

It is also expected to enhance the voice and visibility of women in order to nurture a society where women in leadership is a norm rather than an exception.

Encouraging more women in Bhutan to participate in elections or take up leadership positions

NCWC’s Director, Kunzang Lhamu and BNEW’s Executive Director, Phuntshok Choden highlighted that Bhutanese women, despite being competent, face great challenges to participate in elections or be in leadership positions.

The number of women participating in parliamentary elections is decreasing, indicating a lack of interest. With few women representation in elections, reaching a critical mass of 33 percent remains a distant dream.


The percentage of women elected in Parliament decreased from 13.8 in 2008 to 8.3 in 2013. However, the figure increased to 15.3 percent in 2018. At the local government (LG) level, there was a slight improvement from 7.8 percent in 2011 to 11.3 percent in 2016.

According to Kunzang Lhamu, the institution of a temporary special measure was featured as a crucial recommendation from the CEDAW expert committee during their periodic report presentations.

The possibilities of temporary special measures were discussed and consultation meetings have been held at various levels since 2013.

“In the current scenario, temporary special measures in the form of quota or reserved seats is highly unlikely, but the need for affirmative action is inevitable to close the gender equality gap.”

Demographically 47.7 percent of the population is female and more than 51 percent of the voters during every elections so far are female.

The Executive Director said that equitable participation of women in politics, governance and leadership are essential for building, sustaining and deepening democracy in Bhutan.

BNEW has worked hard to build the capacity of women in ‘Local Government’ to ensure that they not only safeguard their own re-lection but also pave the way for other women to participate and gain the trust and confidence of society on women leadership.

The Minister of Health, Dechen Wangmo, said that the voices of Bhutanese women are not adequately heard in all spheres.

“It is important to enable, encourage and empower women and NCWC and BNEW are doing a wonderful job.”

Why is it necessary to establish the Bhutan Women Parliamentary Caucus (BWPC)?

Besides implementing informal interventions such as the BNEW caucus and a Whatsapp group, NCWC and BNEW officials claim that there has never been such a network as the BWPC.


Source: Youtube/National Commission for Women and Children


Kunzang Lhamu said that the BWPC is envisaged to guide and shape the strategies and interventions of both organisations and to strengthen collaboration and support towards women.

“It will form a visible and inclusive platform for women actors, aspirants and supporters to help and support women.”

There were events that led the NCWC and BNEW to form the Bhutan Women Parliamentary Caucus. More than 200 women voiced the need for a platform for women to network and support each other during the 3rd national conference on Women in Parliamentary held in 2018.

The NWCW and BNEW signed a MoU for working together on gender equality in elected offices. In the absence of a legislation on quota for women (pledge dropped) in 2016, the BWPC could prove useful to advance Bhutan’s gender agenda.

Bhutan’s position on WIP in the region and the world

Bhutan occupies the 13th position among 103 countries in terms of representation of women in Parliament. In the SAARC region, Bhutan is ranked 7th with the lowest being Pakistan.

In the Global Gender Report 2018 by World Economic Forum, Bhutan is ranked 138 out of 149 countries in the subcategory or index political empowerment of women.

Bhutan’s global gender gap ranking has been sliding since the assessment began, as it fell from 93 in 2013 to 124 in 2017.


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


Related Posts

Need For More Women Entrepreneurs To Partake In Bhutan’s Economic...

The 2018 Global Gender Gap Report has ranked Bhutan 122nd out of 149 countries on a global index.

Mar 14, 2019 20:54

RENEW’s Microfinance Loans Empower Women In Rural Regions Of...

Most women in the rural communities do not have access to financial services but this initiative has been a turning...

Jan 23, 2019 18:02

An Unprecedented 7 Out Of 10 Women Candidates Were Elected In...

It was a big win for the women of Bhutan as the country elected seven of the 10 women candidates who contested in the...

Oct 22, 2018 17:08

Bhutan's Drukair Celebrates International Women’s Day By...

It is the first time in the history of Bhutan’s aviation industry that a flight has been handled by an all-female crew.

Mar 10, 2019 21:27

Making Money Out Of Thrash - Meet Bhutan’s Winner Of The SAARC...

Chogyal Lhamo collects waste and turn them into useful items such as bags, containers and dust-bins for sale.

May 04, 2019 23:58

Ugyen Dema - Bhutan’s Very First Female Captain For Drukair Hopes...

Donning four stripes over her shoulders, Ugyen Dema, 33 was promoted following a ‘marchang’ ceremony.

Nov 07, 2018 13:10



Remembering His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s Legacies On His 64th Birthday

During His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 34 year reign, he has implemented many landmark policies.

Nov 12, 2019 20:28

EU Supports Capacity Building To Improve Bhutan’s Export Diversification

Bhutanese products selected for export and market diversification are ginger, turmeric, mushrooms and yak dairy.

Nov 07, 2019 23:58


Global Happiness Alliance Aims To Spread Concept Of Gross National Happiness Worldwide

The alliance seeks to enhance the understanding of GNH as a concept and to spread it all around the world.

Nov 08, 2019 23:08

Zoedue – Fermented Cheese Made By The Brokpas Of Sakteng Sees Increasing Demand

Zoedue has become a lucrative business in Sakteng ever since motor-road accessibility improved.

Nov 05, 2019 23:48


Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Tour Of The Dragon – Toughest One Day Bike Race Starts On 7 September In Bhutan

It takes sheer toil and stamina for the top riders to complete the 268 km race which finishes at the capital, Thimphu.

Sep 06, 2019 23:58


Gakyed Gatoen - Festival of Happiness Seeks To Promote Bhutan’s Products

The idea of the festival was to enable tourists and Bhutanese to learn about the traditional cottage industry.

Nov 01, 2019 23:28

Cottage & Small Industries Flagship Programme Rolled Out In Bhutan, Set To Create More Jobs

The CSI sector was identified as one the flagship programme in view of its greater socio-economic roles in Bhutan.

Oct 11, 2019 15:38


Bhutan’s Black-Necked Crane Festival Drawing More Foreign Tourists

Some 500 tourists from around the world came to Bhutan to see the Black-Necked Crane festival, exceeding the number of locals.

Nov 14, 2019 23:18

Bhutan Bird Festival Set Bird Watching Haven Of Zhemgang Abuzz

Zhemgang is home to more than 500 species of birds, which is an area much sought after by bird watchers from around the world.

Nov 13, 2019 12:48


Bhutanese Textiles To Be Exhibited In Paris Trade Fair 2020

The exhibition is an initiative of the EU-Bhutan Trade Support project.

Nov 10, 2019 12:48

Launch Of Karen Greenspan’s Footfalls From The Land Of Happiness: A journey Into The Dances Of Bhutan

The book delves into familiar subjects that are what continues to shape Bhutan’s image.

Oct 05, 2019 10:18

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!