Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future.

In Bhutan’s 2023 National Council elections, only one woman was elected. Despite progress, women still face challenges to political participation.
By Rachel “Sink” Lindsay
Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future

One Woman Wins.

In Bhutan’s 2023 National Council elections, only one woman was elected to the NC from a female population of around 360,000. Despite progress in recent years, women still face challenges to political
participation.

Source: Himal Southasian

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Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future
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Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future
Source: Kuensel

Background.

The National Council is the highest legislative and policy-making body in Bhutan. In the last election, in 2018, only two women were elected to the NC, with two additional women appointed by Bhutan’s king.

Source: Himal Southasian

Women's Limited Participation.

The latest NC elections were held in April 2023 and saw nominees contesting from Bhutan’s 20 dzongkhags, or districts. Despite women outnumbering men in the country’s population, only nine women registered to contest as candidates from a total of seven districts.

Source: Himal Southasian

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Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future
Source: Yangchen C Rinzin
Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future
Source: Kuensel

Bhutan's Sole Woman Elect.

Following the Dhamngoi Zomdu, or selection procedure for candidates looking to contest seats, only five women candidates made it through, as against 84 male candidates. When election results were announced, Tshering Tshomo, from Zhemgang, was the sole woman elected to the NC.

Source: Himal Southasian

Staggering Stats.

Women occupy 18 percent of leadership positions in the civil service; comprise 3.4 percent of gups, or local government leaders and command 15.3 percent of seats in the NC.

Source: Himal Southasian

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Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future
Source: IKnowPolitics
Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future
Source: International IDEA

Still a Ways to Go.

While Bhutan has seen some positive changes in recent years in terms of women’s representation in politics and leadership, the 2023 election results show that women’s participation in politics is yet to become the norm in Bhutan. Women are generally considered the nangi-aum – the lady of the house.

Source: Himal Southasian

“Times are changing, and we just have to grab the opportunity. I wanted to contest because I felt I could do better.”

—Tshering Tshomo, The sole woman elected to the National Council

Tshering Tshomo: The Sole Woman Shaping Bhutan's Political Future
Source: BBS

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