A good 52% of the participants in our last poll said that we do not discriminate against our women. But 44% said that our women do face discrimination. And the rest, that’s hardly 4%, said that they couldn’t tell.
A majority of us feel that our women do not suffer discrimination. That’s good. And that must be so. After all, our society is, more or less, matriarchal; inheritance favours daughters; men move in with their wives; wives don’t take their husbands’ names; widows and divorcees can remarry; and our laws protect women.
For these reasons, and many more, we pride ourselves in having the least amount of discrimination against women among all the countries in South Asia. Some of us even boast that our women are better off than those of many advanced nations.
But wait. Let’s look at employment, an issue that is becoming increasingly important in all our lives. Let’s look at jobs. And let’s look at what we consider to be the most attractive jobs – the public service.
The civil service has 19,835 regular employees. Of them, only 6,166 are women. That is, women account for barely 31% of the civil service. Or, in other words, the civil service currently employs less than one woman for every two men. Suddenly, the situation does not appear too good, does it?
But it gets worse: of the 181 executive level civil servants – that’s directors and above – only 8 are women. Of the 50 specialists, only 6 are women. And only one of the secretaries to the government is a woman.
And worse: the heads of all, but one, of the government owned corporations are men.
And worse still: we have never had a woman as a dzongdag. We have never had a woman as an ambassador. And we have never had a woman cabinet minister.
Our first Parliament is dominated by men. Of the 72 members, only 10 are women. And all its leaders – Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the National Council, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, leader of the ruling party, and leader of the opposition party – are men. The secretaries general of both the houses are men.
Only one of our 205 gups is a woman.
Now ask yourself again: do we discriminate against our women?
Our next poll is straightforward. I want to know how often we go to our villages.