Respect, Educate, Nurture, and Empower Women (RENEW) displayed more than 30 recycled handicraft items at the Royal University of Bhutan auditorium  to celebrate the international day for elimination of violence against women.

The exhibition will continue until tomorrow.

Sixteen individuals –four men and 12 women, including housewives, school drop outs, and unemployed received the training from South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE) to make products from plastic, paper, plastic bottles, and textile waste collected from offices, hotels, and Clean Bhutan.

Karma Lodey Dema, one of the recipients of the training, was also certified as a master artisan by SAFE.

She said: “Managing paper waste at home was the first objective and later the idea was developed to generate money. I have also given this training to about seven women in my neighbourhood for free.”

The project, which started in April this year, was supported by India-Bhutan Foundation (IBF).

SAFE’s programme director, Chiranjeet Chatterjee, said that an opportunity like this helps the vulnerable group such as women and unemployed lead a sustainable lifestyle and also help waste management. “Empowering women through awareness and building capacity is not enough. You need to provide a direct linkage to generate revenue.”

SAFE and RENEW will scale up the idea by spreading the training to other dzongkhags.

Manager of RENEW’s Gawailing Happy Home, Tashi Wangmo, said that the exhibition garnered significant audience. “If there is good market, we will expand by taking the items to the schools, offices, and shops.”

Following the exhibition, a two-day conference that opened yesterday will discuss violence against women and children.

Members of the Community-based Support System (CBSS) and stakeholders from 20 dzongkhags are attending the conference.

Phurpa Lhamo