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✊ Beyond Victims #2022 - Bhutan

Our second edition of this year’s Beyond Victims Series brings you stories of inspiring women political leaders from Bhutan.

Through this series, we are committed to move beyond victimising women in politics or seeing them as beneficiaries of reservation and rethink their role as change-makers and leaders from the grassroots to the top.

From a grassroots leader who entered politics after an extensive stint with nonprofits to the country’s first woman in the cabinet. Read about them and others below.

Dorji Choden

Former Minister

Photo Source : Gaurdain

Dorji Choden became Bhutan's first democratically elected woman Minister in 2013, handling the Works and Human Settlements portfolio. An engineer herself, she worked on the country's infrastructure development, water and sanitation. As the Chair of Bhutan Commission for Women and Children, she worked on promoting women into more leadership roles, especially in local government.

– Guardian, Apr 2015

Namgay Peldon

Former Gup, Gewog (Dagana District)

Photo Source: UNDP

Namgay Peldon’s work as a non-formal educator and in the community made her contest elections and become the first woman Gup (block leader) in the country. During her tenure, she developed the Gewog office, renovated an ancient temple, constructed new farm roads, set up irrigation channels for the community and enabled the community to initiate farming and other cultivation.

– UN Women, May 2014

Neten Zangmo

Former President of Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP)

Photo source: Wikimedia

Neten Zangmo had a long, inspiring career as a civil servant before she entered politics. She headed Bhutan's Anti-Corruption Commission and was bestowed with the title of ‘Dasho’ for her work. She led Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) during the 2018 elections, the only party with a woman President. Under her leadership, BKP included LGBTQ+ rights in their election manifesto.

– Multiple Sources

Karma Dema

Gup, Deothang Gewog (Samdrupjongkhar District)

Photo Source: Government

As a newly elected Gup (block leader), Karma Dema is creating sustainable opportunities for youth and women by providing training support and subsidies to small groups formed for handicrafts and agricultural production. She encourages women and youth to participate in meetings, decision making and developmental processes. Before entering politics, she worked on good governance, gender and public administrative reforms with civil society organisations.

– Personal Interview

Sherab Lham

Gup, Hungrel Gewog (Paro District)

Photo Source: Government

After serving for ten years as Mangmi (Deputy leader), Sherab Lham got elected as Gup (block leader) in the 2021 elections. She is a strong advocate of and encourages women in politics in local governance. She asserted a focus on waste management, youth unemployment, and gender disparity in her new role. (BBS, Aug 2022 & Bhutan Today)

– BBS, Aug 2022; Bhutan Today

Drafted & Edited by: Ishita Shah, Akhil Neelam

Design: Vida Seraphina (

Contributor: Simran Arora

Thank you for reading Beyond Victims!

This year’s Beyond Victims series will span eight editions, covering stories of inspiring women’s political leadership across South Asia. Get them in your inbox by joining our mailing list.

Women for Politics is an initiative of Centre for Gender And Politics (CGAP).

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