The president and founder of Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW), Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck and ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu inaugurated a vocational centre at the Gawailing Happy Home at Selekha in Wangsisina yesterday.

The vocational centre will cater to women from economically challenged background and victims of domestic violence by giving them the space to train in traditional and Assam loom weaving.

RENEW’s director of counselling department, Tshering Dolkar, said the centre will help empower women and integrate them into the society through training by supporting themselves and their family.

“The vocational centre will train 17 women of which 14 are from the Gawailing Happy Home and three are new beneficiaries.”

She said that the centre would provide employment to women, as some of them will be employed at RENEW. “The income they earn by selling the products they weave during the training period will be used to sustain the Gawailing Happy Home.”

The director said that eight women from the Gawailing Happy Home who had received training in weaving and tailoring have found employment.

An Assam loom trainer at RENEW, Sonam Zangden, said the training will last for three months for women who are new to weaving. “Women who already know how to weave will be trained for a month only.”

She said that the training doesn’t require hard labour and women can also make a living. “Women who are financially constrained could lead an independent life.”

The Gawailing Happy Home provides rehabilitation to women with economically challenged background and survivors of domestic violence. The home has also provided training in weaving, tailoring and making handicraft items.

Tshering Dolkar said the vocational training has been in small scale earlier because there was space crunch.

The centre’s construction began in March last year after it received USD 97,659 from the Japanese government.

A press release from RENEW stated that the centre was funded by the Embassy of Japan in India, under the grant assistance for grassroots and human security projects.

Japan’s ambassador to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu, said the Japanese government is committed to helping projects related to bringing gender equality and women empowerment in Bhutan.

RENEW has more than 500 women beneficiaries as of today.

Phurpa Lhamo