Peer-Learning on Political Empowerment of EWRs held
Peer-Learning between Bhutan and India on Political Empowerment of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) was held on 2-5 January 2016 in Paro, Bhutan. The peer-engagement between the Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) and The Hunger Project (THP), India is a direct consequence of BNEW’s participation in the LOGIN study visit and travel workshop to India (2014) on the collectivization of local governments.
BNEW has been leading the process of building leadership capacities of women, and encouraging their participation in electoral processes and politics in Bhutan. With elections to local governments approaching in 2016, BNEW seeks to learn from THP’s leadership and capacity development programmes for EWRs.
THP works across seven states in India. Since 2001 THP, in partnership with 40 local civil society organisations, has trained more than 100,000 EWRs towards strengthening their participation in political processes and enabling them to become effective leaders in their communities.
In May 2015, a delegation from BNEW and SDC, Bhutan visited India to better acquaint themselves with THP’s experience, and identify areas for peer-learning. BNEW and SDC expressed their interest to adapt THP’s Strengthening Women’s Empowerment through Electoral Process (SWEEP) campaign, and roll it out before the 2016 elections in Bhutan.
In October 2015, a scoping visit was organised in Bhutan to undertake context analysis and develop an initial plan for a SWEEP campaign in the country, adapting it to the socio-political and cultural factors and suggesting an outline for a sustained capacity building strategy for EWRs in the country.
Following this scoping visit, BNEW and THP organised a 4-day “Gender Training for Strengthening Women’s Empowerment” in Paro, Bhutan for 40 participants (including Dzongkhag Election Officers, DzongkhagTshogduTshodrungs/Secretaries of the 20 Dzongkhags). The key objective of this training was to bring about a common understanding on the importance of women’s participation and representation as elected leaders, and a greater degree of gender sensitivity while carrying out the respective roles and responsibilities on the road towards elections. For 99% of the participants this was the first gender-based training.
Attendees concluded that although the laws of Bhutan are gender neutral and do not discriminate against women, predominant mind sets in Bhutanese society need to undergo transformation to give women the due spaces. In Bhutan women make up 50-51% of the population, but currently their representation in local governments and Parliament stands at a mere 7-8%. The Global average was 20% in 2015.
Participants left the training with a greater understanding and commitment to do their best to facilitate and support BNEW to strengthen and enhance women’s representation in leadership/decision-making positions in Bhutan.
“The training gave me an idea on how we should encourage our women in politics and what are the factors that are holding them back, how to open up an individual’s mind about elections, politics or independency” – a participant at the BNEW-THP training.
Source: LOGIN Network Updates