Strengthening Democratic Governance

From 2008-2016, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has focused its cooperation with Bhutan on the good governance agenda, which was comprehensively laid out in the 10th Five Year Plan (FYP). The Plan sought to reduce poverty through good governance and set out “to engender a truly representative, responsive and meaningful democracy”.

Since 2008, SDC’s financial support amounted to CHF (Swiss Francs) 20.7 million in eight areas to strengthen governance and deepen Bhutan’s democratic reforms. As highlighted in the following chart, these include effort towards:

  • Maintaining proper and effective checks and balances among various branches of the government;
  • Ensuring the proper management and best use of public resources;
  • Strengthening local governments and decentralization processes;
  • Enhancing the political capabilities and participation of all Bhutanese;
  • Ensuring administrative and financial efficiency, transparency and accountability, and improving public service management;
  • Combatting the spread of corruption;
  • Promoting the role of media and civil society; and
  • Enforcing the rule of law wherein law is applied impartially. 

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Empowering Women – An Example of Successful SDC-Bhutan Partnership

Throughout its programmes, gender has been addressed as a crosscutting issue with particular emphasis on women’s empowerment and political participation. SDC has supported capacity-building of women leaders, with particular emphasis on encouragement and preparation of potential women leaders for the 2016 Local Government Elections.

Since 2013, the Bhutan Network for Empowerment of Women (BNEW)—a civil society organization—has conducted numerous workshops and trainings on gender equality, civic engagement and leadership, in part supported by SDC, which were attended by 3,238 women. BNEW also trained 1,474 prospective female candidates for the 2016 local government elections, in the Dzongkha language, leadership, and campaigning skills. SDC programmes in the 11th FYP also laid a minimum threshold of 30 percent participation of either sex for all capacity development activities.

 

 

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Swiss-Bhutanese cooperation is an example of successful international development practice, with SDC programmes in the country playing a critical role in strengthening both government and civil society agencies in providing checks and balances.

Bhutan at a Glance
Area (sq. km) 38,394
Population by sex
Male 398,948
Female 369,629
Population density 20
Health Coverage (%) 90
Access to safe drinking water (%) 95
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