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Posts from the ‘Bhutan’ Category

DIPD’s Work on Youth in Politics Is Rated as Promising Practice

In an independent review of more than 76 global programmes in support of youth, DIPD’s engagement in promoting youth in politics is considered promising practice that can inspire both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and other organisations.

The Danish MFA undertook the review to inform the MFA on how to optimize and operationalise Denmark’s new development cooperation strategy and its particular focus on youth.

In the new strategy Denmark has committed to give young people “… the opportunity to enhance their participation and influence in society as involved, committed and equal actors with the ability and opportunity to take developments into their own hands.” The strategy outlines that these objectives are to be achieved through various measures within policy, programme and partnerships. The review was undertaken in view of these two main strands.

While DIPD’s youth programmes are not directly part of the MFA’s youth portfolio, DIPD’s method of work was included by the review team, discussed by the international youth panel involved in the review and rated as promising practice:

Promising practice: Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD); strengthening youth involvement in the political parties through inspiration and exchange between political parties’ youth wings.

DIPD supports democracy through support to political parties in developing countries with funding from Danida, partly through the Danish political parties and partly through direct support to multi-party democracy initiatives. DIPD has identified the strengthening of youth involvement and participation within the political parties in developing countries as one of a limited number of areas where Danish support can add specific value. In cooperation between DUF and DIPD, a guideline on ‘how to build a youth wing’ has been developed by young Danish youth wing members, used as training and inspiration material. Exchange activities between the young members from Denmark and Egypt, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, Palestine, Myanmar, Bhutan, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya and Bolivia has been implemented. DIPD has both directly implemented and funded a number of projects, through Danish political parties, their youth wings and youth members in developing countries to increase focus on and strengthen youth as political actors. A recent evaluation found that ‘project activities gave the young participants new skills and self-esteem, particularly among young women in traditionalist societies’.

Extracts from: Youth Leading the World 2030: A review of Danida’s Youth- Related Engagements, Final Report, 2017, p. 12


Youth in politics activities in Myanmar

DIPD employs a systemic approach to working with youth in politics that engages party leadership and agenda setting through advocacy, focuses on party structures and processes that facilitates or hinders youth engagement, and finally capacitates youth and facilitates multiparty youth dialogues and platforms.

With this approach the institute and the Danish political parties together with youth and partners are very well placed to initiate and facilitate change relating to several of the main recommendations in the review. The recommendations, which DIPD can make a particular contribution to, are listed below:

  • Unleashing young people’s agency – Support formal and informal youth-led organisations, networks and movements to lead, initiate, design and implement their own initiatives – Several of DIPD’s programmes are supporting leadership development of youth and the establishment of youth wings or youth platforms that can take independent action and agency.
  • Prioritise youth-to-youth exchanges between Denmark and developing countries, particular between youth-led organisations and movements. In DIPD’s work exchange between party youth in cooperation countries and party youth in Denmark is a center piece. Mutual learning and peer dialogue has taken place with youth in Egypt, Malawi, Kenya, Myanmar and Palestine – just to mention a few.
  • Support linkages between youth and gender movements, and promote the nexus of the two – In several of DIPD’s programmes – for example in Malawi and Myanmar – the strategies on youth involvement interact with measures to involve more women in political parties. Often the agenda setting work is focused on both youth and gender.
  • Champion Youth priorities in National Policy Dialogues with Governments in Priority Countries – while it takes time and concerted action to facilitate youth dialogues on national policies, it also takes national opportunities for policy input to make it fly. In Myanmar the current formulation process of the National Youth Policy is an ideal opportunity for DIPD to facilitate input from the youth through the DIPD supported Multiparty Youth Dialogue Platforms. In several other countries, such as Kenya and Malawi, similar processes are or have been underway.

More information

Visit DIPD’s partnership pages to read more about the institute’s work on youth in politics in various cooperation countries.

Contact DIPD’s Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen:


Thimphu Declaration: advancements made at 2nd National Women’s Conference

At the end of the 2nd National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics held in Thimphu, Bhutan, on 8-10 March, the Thimphu Decleration was unfurled. The declaration presents three goals for stronger female participation in politics, leadership and the public sector.

During a three-day conference organised by DIPD-partner Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) and the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), current challanges and opportunities for incresing women’s participation in politics and governance in Bhutan were discussed, with several international experts providing valuable contributions. Among these were former Danish MP Gitte Seeberg and prof. Drude Dahlerup.

At the end of the conference, the Thimphu Declaration was unfurled, bringing forth three important goals for the enhancement of women’s participation in politics and governance:

Goal no. 1 (2018-2019): Ensure 30% of women candidature in the upcoming elections from the political parties.

Goal no. 2 (2020-2021): Increase the number of elected women local leaders by 30% through fast-track measures.

Goal no. 3 (2017-2025): Increase the number of women executives/leaders in the civil service/public service by 25 per cent by 2025.

To achieve these goals, the following meassures will be taken:

  1. Review Electoral Laws, Bhutan Civil Service Regulations (BCSR), Local Governement  (LG), National Assembly (NA) Act, National Council (NC) Act and relevant policies, Laws & regulations;
  2. Adopt a Gender Equality policy;
  3. Propose for a Local Government Election Campaign Fund;
  4. Political parties to revisit and commit to mainstream gender in their charters and manifestos;
  5. Carryout targeted Gender Responsive advocacy at all levels and especially by the media and CSOs;
  6. Create a system whereby women leaders in different offices mentor other aspiring women candidates;
  7. Enable gender responsive election environment to increase voter turnout.
  8. Create and provide crèche and other children facilities in public offices and also during election period.

The Thimphu Declaration received full backing from Bhutan’s government, as a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between BNEW and NCWC, with the National Assembly Speaker and Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Chairwoman of NCWC, pledging to translate the declaration in to action.

The 2nd Annual Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics was arranged with the support of DIPD as leading partner to BNEW and with further support from Int. IDEA and UNWomen.

More information

Read more about The Bhutan Network for Empowering Women and DIPD’s work in Bhutan.

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen:

Women in Political Parties in Bhutan

At a seminar on women in politics in Bhutan the political parties of Bhutan shared their experiences on advancing women in politics – including both the difficulties, as well as the opportunities for improvements. 




Former Danish MP Gitte Seeberg moderated the session and stressed that women tend to underestimate their own capacity in comparison with men. She also said that sometimes women in powerful positions do not create an enabling environment for other women to advance in.

Also participating in the seminar was Danish professor and expert on women in politics Drude Dahlerup. She, on the other hand, very clearly placed the responsibility for advancing female political representation on the political parties in her opening statement: “The political parties are the gatekeepers to elected positions … It is the responsibility of the political parties to be more inclusive in terms of gender, majority/minorities and youth.”

Professor Drude Dahlerup speaking at the seminar on advancing female political representation in Bhutan

The political parties took up the challenge and a lively debate unfolded regarding a way forward for advancing women in politics in Bhutan, including a discussion of the various options presented by Drude Dahlerup:

  • Positive action (UN Platform for Action, Beijing 1995)
  • Temporary special measures  (CEDAW Convention)
  • Quotas by law or voluntary party quotas

At the final session of the seminar, the national plan for advancing women’s political participation was considered, and the political parties drew up action plans, including voter education, candidate training, political mentoring and review of party nomination processes. At this session DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen expressed continued commitment from DIPD to support the efforts in collaboration with the local partners.

DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen speaking at the final session

The seminar formed part of the 2nd National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics, organized by Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) in partnership with the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD). Also represented at the conference was DIPD partners from Myanmar and Nepal, who participated, shared experiences from their national contexts and brought new ideas home with them.


More information

Read more about DIPD’s partnership with Bhutan Network for Empowering Women and DIPD’s work in Myanmar and Nepal.

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen:

Democracy is an everyday action: Launch of Resources for Democracy

By Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy

In a programme supported by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD), the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy is telling stories of Bhutan’s democratic experience on radio, in publications and is now launching two new media: a graphic novel and a TV series.


One of the key challenges of Bhutan’s evolving democracy is the fact that many of us are still trying to understand the ideologies, values and culture of democracy.  There is limited discussion on democracy, or on politics, in our schools and institutions. There is currently a dearth of resources on democracy in Bhutan even as we live through the process of democratisation.

In an innovative programme supported by DIPD, the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) has been able to tell stories of Bhutan’s democratic experience on radio, in publications, and now in a graphic novel as well as an upcoming TV series.

BCMD is launching a new graphic novel titled Jurwa – a Story of Change, and a TV series with the same title. The centre also takes the occasion to share our updated Active Citizen’s Guide with new chapters on “parliament” and “women in politics”.

These are materials that will go into the public domain through TV and will be distributed in schools, institutions, and geogs. The aim is to get the attention of the younger generation – the voters and upcoming voters in the 2018 general elections.

By making democracy an everyday topic of discussion through media, the classroom, the home, and libraries, BCMD hope to debunk the myth that democracy is a political idea that does not concern the average person.

No democracy without women – women in politics is one of the critical issues BCMD focuses on

Background on Jurwa

Jurwa began as a 43-episode radio series that was broadcast in 2013/ 2014, shortly after the second general election. The stories, largely fiction, are gathered from discussions with a cross section of people – political party candidates, MPs, women, and party members including sections of youth.  The radio series prompted thinking and discussion on our democratic journey and the Jurwa CDs has helped open up discussions in Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) workshops as well as in Non-Formal Education centres and libraries in strategic areas. The READ libraries use the Jurwa series as part of its women’s educational programme on a regular basis. We collaborate with CSOs to spread the message that democracy is more than an election. It is a responsibility.

Jurwa is a story with comedy, romance, suspense, and the tensions of a small community in contemporary times. Set in a fictitious village Gakithang, Jurwa highlights some of the challenges of creating a new democratic society and encourages us to think about several critical issues:

  • Political candidates make realistic pledges to the people and that democracy is not just about making promises to win votes
  • Candidates may earn their spurs in the local government before making it to national government
  • A person who stands against another in an election is not an enemy
  • It is OK to have different political views within a family
  • Differing / opposing views are not a sign of disrespect. Feedback is crucial for any democracy and diverse opinions are healthy.
  • Women play an equally important role in politics and in democratic change
  • Everyone (both local and national representatives) is working for the same goal – a better future for Bhutan. We may belong to different parties or hold different views, but we are all in this together.

BCMD is launching the Jurwa TV series and the Jurwa graphic novel at an important national conference – Women in Governance, Leadership & Politics in Bhutan with a regional dimension at Terma Lingka on 9th March, 2017.

DIPD Director, Rasmus Petersen and an ECB representative will launch the publications in a simple ceremony with the screening of a short trailer of the upcoming TV series.

BCMD acknowledges the collaboration of BNEW and NCWC in supporting the launch.


DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen launching the Jurwa graphic novel


Read more about DIPD’s partnership with Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy and DIPD’s general work in Bhutan.

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen:

International Women’s Day in Bhutan – The fight for gender equality transcends international borders

The struggle for gender equality in Denmark dates back more than a century; in other parts of the world the fight has just begun, but what remains common across the globe is that gender equality is an urgent issue worth fighting for. The transcending character of International Women’s Day is apparent in Thimpu, Bhutan, where DIPD is co-hosting a regional conference on how to improve female representation in politics.


Firm determination for change

International Women’s Day symbolizes what has been achieved in regards to gender equality across the globe. And there is much to celebrate. But the 8th of March is also an opportunity to discuss what is yet to be accomplished.

This is exactly what is happening today in Thimpu, where politicians from Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan are gathered at the 2nd National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics, co-organized by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD). And the goal is crystal clear: the political parties express firm determination to bring more women to the forefront of politics to be given political opportunities and to take political responsibility.

As Dorji Choden, Minister of Works and Human Settlement in Bhutan, says:

“Women can no longer stand at the sideline – CSOs, Government, political parties and private companies must work together to bring positive change.”

The commitment to deliver on gender equality and bring change is reinforced by Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay:

“When you die, what happens? We believe in rebirth. Would you like to be reborn as a women or as a man? In this light we all better ensure that gender equality prevails,” says the Prime Minister.


The parliament of Bhutan, where only 7 percent of MP’s are women. But there is a strong will in the country for this to change.

The Danish experience

Also attending the conference in Bhutan is former Danish MP Gitte Seeberg, ready to share experiences from the Danish struggle for gender equality:

“The development has been ambiguous in Denmark, where we for example have seen a parliament without women in important councils, and where women still are underrepresented in the business world and have lower salaries than men.”

Although the fight for equality is still underway in Denmark, Gitte Seeberg believes that the experiences from Denmark can contribute to the democratic development of one of the world’s youngest democracies, Bhutan:

“It has taken Danish women 100 years to get to where we are today. It is absolutely necessary that we help women in Bhutan in  gaining the tools to move faster than we have done.”

And much suggests that Bhutan’s political development will move at a much faster pace than in Denmark. Democracy was not introduced in Bhutan until 2008. Since then the positive development of democracy has been confirmed with free parliamentary elections in 2013 and local elections in 2016.

Yeshey Choden from the People’s Democratic Party of Bhutan is encouraged by the latest elections, but there is still a long way to go – only 7 % of the elected MPs are female.

“We hope that the debate and renewed attention to gender balance on 8th March during the 2nd National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics in Bhutan will provide a drive for more fundamental change in the future,” says Yeshey Choden.

DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen on his way to a meeting together with the leader of the political opposition in Bhutan.

Real change takes place 360 days a year

As important as the 8th of March is in creating awareness of the urgent issue of gender equality, DIPD Director, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, stressed that the day should never stand alone:

“Although it is great to be celebrating the achievements made today, it is important to remember that the real change takes place 360 days of the year.”


The conference on women in politics from March 8th – 11th is organized by Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) in partnership with DIPD with participation by DIPD Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen and DIPD Senior Adviser Hanne Lund Madsen. Professor Drude Dahlerup and former MP Gitte Seeberg are also attending.


More information

Read more about DIPD’s partnership with Bhutan Network for Empowering Women and DIPD’s work in Myanmar and Nepal.

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen: