Staff Reporter 

The JICA Alumni Association of Bhutan (JAAB) hosted an international seminar themed “Gender mainstreaming from GNH perspective” in Thimphu yesterday.

The members of JICA Alumni Association’s Forum of SAARC countries (JAAFSC) joined the discourse virtually to share the best practices of gender mainstreaming implemented in the JAAFSC countries.

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that, in understanding gender mainstreaming or empowerment, there should be a global fundamental shift instead of within the countries. “We can’t look at gender issues in silos. Gender is an issue that is cross cutting.”

The shift, according to lyonpo, includes seeing gender empowerment as the fundamental duty of every individual, if the developmental agenda is to be taken forward.

The discussions, lyonpo said, should be comprehensive and inclusive of all genders.

Gender mainstreaming has been embraced internationally as a strategy towards realising gender equality.  It involves the integration of a gender perspective into the preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, regulatory measures and spending programmes, with a view to promoting equality between women and men, and combating discrimination.

The Director General of JICA, Sakamoto Takema, said that such discussions were timely, considering the global situations created by the Covid-19 pandemic where the vulnerable groups are gravely affected.

South Asia is home to about 860 million women and girls but the region has closed only two-thirds of its gender gap, which according to estimates, will take 71 years at the current rate of progress.  Among the eight regions of the world, the region is the second lowest scoring region on last year’s global gender gap index.

The participants shared their countries’ gender situation and also examined how South Asian countries are progressing in gender equality through the lens of social welfare.

Bhutan approved the National Gender Equality Policy in January last year.  The concerned authorities like the National Commission for Women and Children, however, received increased cases of gender-based violence during the two nationwide lockdowns.