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Bhutan gets first woman minister
Rabi C Dahal, July 25, 2013
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Bhutan yesterday named its first woman minister, Dorji Choden from Thrimshing constituency in Trashigang.

The minister designate is the first woman engineer of Bhutan. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology, India, and a Master’s in Arts in Public Administration from Syracuse University in the United States of America.

The 53-year-old new minister for the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement was a civil servant for over 20 years, starting as an assistant engineer in the Public Works Department. She later served as the chief of Public Health Engineering Division, and in January 2000, she became the director of the newly established Standards and Quality Control Authority.

In January 2006, she was appointed a commissioner to the newly established Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). During her tenure as a civil servant, Dorji Choden represented technical and gender issues at the national, regional and international forums.

She resigned from the ACC in 2008 to stand as the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate from Thrimshing constituency. She lost to Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) candidate against whom she contested again and won this time.

Since her election defeat in 2008, she worked as a freelance consultant for a year, and in the following year she joined UN in Bhutan as the assistant resident representative, Poverty & MDG Unit. While in the UN, she handled the poverty portfolio, with special emphasis on addressing youth employment and women’s empowerment.

In March this year, she was elected as the president of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT). As the leader of DNT, she said, “I strongly believe that social democratic approach which embraces inclusive participation and growth, leaving no one behind and at the same time promoting individual goals and free enterprise is best suited to our country.”

“I believe [that] the ultimate aim of the political structures and systems is to achieve good governance and the key to good governance is peace, security and prosperity in the country,” Dorji Choden, mother of two, said.

In the primary election, she secured maximum votes in her constituency but her party didn’t qualify for the general election. After the primary, she claimed that she received offers from both the DPT and PDP to join them for the general election. She chose to join the latter. She won the general election with a huge vote margin.

“Aum Dorji Choden is a woman of impeccable character. Unpretentious and affable, she is known for her integrity and high morals. She is a perfect epitome of Nangi Aum (lady of the house), a symbol of unity and harmony of a family,” a former party colleague of hers describes her.

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