RENEW: Yeshey Dawa, an animation series to advocate on the rights of women and children in Bhutan was launched yesterday to observe the International Day of the Girl Child.

Royal patron of RENEW, Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck and Australian Ambassador for Women and Children, Stott Despoja, launched the series.

The protagonist, Yeshey Dawa, is a young educated woman who chooses to live in rural Bhutan and empower women around her. She is believed to be a legendary name of one of the former forms of the Goddess Tara, widely accepted as a metaphor for compassion and liberation.

Yeshey Dawa already appears in Kuensel with series on statutory rights for women and girls in need and creates awareness among men and women of all ages in Bhutan.

Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women’s (RENEW) executive director, Tandin Wangmo, said that the protagonist who is an embodiment of liberation, compassion and action, will always be depicted as someone who believed in fairness and equality.

Tandin Wangmo said the Girl Child day is globally observed to recognise girl’s rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

According to the UN declaration, girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life not only during the critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. “However, in Bhutan, studies have shown that our adolescents lose opportunities due to early marriages, early pregnancies and other invisible vulnerabilities,” she said.

The series is a production of RENEW and will be aired on national television every Thursday before 8pm news. The production will also be produced into radio jingles for the benefit of rural communities.

In her keynote address, Stott Despoja, said that despite the progress of a many years, girls around the world still face challenges and there is no country that has achieved gender equality.

She said that 39,000 girls around the globe are forced into marriage every day and every two seconds a new child marriage takes place. Some 65 million girls around the globe are out of school.

“My message to girls is that your community needs you, it needs you to be involved in decision making and in leadership, your voices are not just welcome but they are absolutely essential,” Ambassador Stott Despoja said. “So seize every opportunity to seek information to speak up and be a leader. You and your actions can make a difference.”

Recognising the vital role that RENEW is playing in transforming the minds of women and girls in Bhutan, the Australian government committed AUD 200,000 to support RENEW’s national campaign in responding to violence against women and girls.

A representative from the Le Meridien also handed over a cheque of Nu 100,000 to RENEW, a donation they had collected through a charity run.

Dechen Tshomo