It is a pity that we are still divided about women participating in khuru tournaments.
But that is to be expected of societies in transition.
As public feedback during the recent national khuru tournament revealed, while many, both young and old, saw nothing wrong with women playing khuru, a few believe that the practice is leading to natural calamities like the recent spate of forest fires as a result of age-old traditions being disregarded.
We cannot change such beliefs. There are reasons why such beliefs take hold and have to be understood in the context or time period they developed in.
However, the context has changed today. Such beliefs have become incompatible with women’s rights.
While some may argue that our country is built upon traditions and cultures that must be respected, the argument is flawed.
There are some traditions that must be maintained, like our national dress, architecture, languages, stories, among others, but beliefs that relegate women to an inferior place in society have outlived their time.
Today, we have our first women minister. An achievement that, no doubt, has inspired many more women to dream and reach the upper offices of governance. There are other women occupying high government posts, who have become successful business leaders, and attained success in other areas. They serve as role models and examples of overcoming boundaries and be treated as equal.
The number may be low for now, but the number of women participating in traditionally male domains has been rising, as a result of education, and the work being put in by organisations like RENEW, NCWC, and Tarayana, among many others. Having role models to emulate is also another significant contributing factor.
It is also regularly pointed out that women in Bhutan enjoy a greater level of freedom and independence than their counterparts in many other countries.
These are some of the positives.
To speed up the process of women empowerment, we cannot leave the task only to the government and NGOs. Each of us, especially men, fathers, uncles, have a role to play.
We can attempt to educate our sons, nephews, friends, to respect women as equals, and also to show by example.
For instance, there is no reason why we should believe that if our wives, daughters, sisters, mothers touch our bow and arrows the night before a match, that it would bring upon us ill luck. There is no reason to demean the ones we love, the ones who may have cared for us, and the ones who would be there for us in times of need, for a game. Our performance in a sport depends on our preparation, practice and skill, not an intangible and dubious connection.
In the bigger picture, such beliefs only impede the full potential of a nation by slowing down progress.
The only answer is education and more education. We can only hope that our wives, aunts, daughters, nieces, who already enjoy the freedom to partake in activities traditionally thought to be the domain of men, continue to push boundaries and ignore the noise.