YK Poudel  

Bhutan joined the world in observing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) in Thimphu yesterday. This year’s global theme is “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”. Bhutan observed the local theme “UNITE!” to end violence against women through economic empowerment.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the Royal Patron for Respect, Educate, Nurture, and Empower Women (RENEW) and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador for Bhutan was the chief guest at the event. Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji and Labour Minister Karma Dorji, officials, and international dignitaries attended the event.

A 16-day of activism towards the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) began yesterday. 

RENEW’s Executive Director Tshering Dolkar said that the commemoration in Bhutan emphasised the significance of working with men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

“During the 16 days of Activism, RENEW will coordinate a number of social media campaigns and messaging in collaboration with the NCWC and with support from UNFPA, UNDP, and others,” she said.

According to RENEW’s study on “Gender Norms on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence” among Men in Bhutan, there is little information on how men perceive issues of SGBV and how they might participate in prevention efforts.

UN Resident Coordinator, Karla Robin Hershey said, “Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world. This discrimination, violence and abuse targeting half of humanity come at a steep cost. It limits women’s and girls’ participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms, and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs.”

She said that the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to leave no one behind – cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to violence against women and girls.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck’s initiative, which places a strong emphasis on the empowerment of the people of Lunana, particularly women and girls, was unveiled at the event. Following Her Majesty the Gyalyum’s recent trip to Lunana, an initiative was developed to solve the major issues the people of Lunana are currently facing.

A sensitisation campaign for the highlanders who will spend the winter in Punakha will serve as the initiative’s launchpad. The people of Lunana will get a comprehensive package of services, including partnerships with important service providers and support for their social, educational, and health needs.

Her Majesty also launched RENEW’s film on engaging men and boys in promoting the significance of women’s economic empowerment, “Gencha – The Soulful Gem” a feature film by director Dorji Wangdi.

Dorji Wangdi said that the film is to advocate for the strength and significance of women and girls in society.

During the 16 days of activism, a number of events will be held all over the nation with the support of Bhutan Telecom, the multi-sectoral task force and community-based support system network, and the taxi association.

The 20 dzongkhags will carry out awareness campaigns on city buses and taxis to discourage violence against women and to inspire all citizens to support women and their rights.

In addition, RENEW and its partners will carry out social media campaigns and discussions on “Partnering with Men & Boys.”

Her Majesty also launched a gender assessment study to comprehend the kind and scope of gender-specific problems and difficulties experienced by women working on hydroelectric, road, and construction projects.