YK Poudel

To equip the young population with knowledge on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) and substance use disorders, four youth groups are working on issues affecting the young population in the country. 

Supported by Save the Children Bhutan, YPEER Bhutan, QUEER Voices of Bhutan, VAST Bhutan, and YDF-Young Volunteers in Action of Gelephu, have been selected for the campaign. A total of seven proposals were submitted to Save the Children. 

YPEER Bhutan, is currently providing awareness on SRHR and the impacts of alcohol consumption through their campaign. The three-day campaign in Zhemgang CS that saw more than 440 students, dzongkhag officials, local government members, parents, teachers and students ended yesterday. 

Bhawana Pradhan, the facilitator of YPEER Bhutan, said that the initiative aims to empower young individuals with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. “We will be reaching out to over 400 students in Zhemgang, Mongar and Trashigang.”

According to the reports, rural communities and youth are vulnerable to such issues. “The programme is in-person facilitation and virtual—six podcasts on SRHR and alcohol consumption will be aired within the next three months.”

QUEER Voices of Bhutan is focusing on the project “Out of the closet: no more queer cliches.” Through this campaign, they are shedding light on the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community and SOGIESC, fostering understanding, acceptance, and inclusion among the Bhutanese society.

Sangay Loday, the focal of the shift campaign, said that addressing SRHR and LGBTQ+ rights are vital in promoting a more inclusive and equitable society, aiming to reduce such incidents and create safe spaces for all. The six-month campaign has reached out to over 100 individuals as of now.  

YDF-Young Volunteers in Action of Gelephu is determined to reach out to over 1,000 students and community members through the shift campaign, “Substance use disorder (SUD) and emotional resilience.” 

Programme officer of YDF-Gelephu, Pema Wangdi, said that the campaign highlights the seriousness of SUD and aims to sensitise the youth about the risks associated with substance abuse.

VAST Bhutan has not yet initiated the project but is planning to focus on the importance of art in the development of children, and end it by October this year. The campaign, according to the Executive Director, Passang Dema, underscores the significance of art as a form of communication and wholesome education for the youth. 

The campaigns are a part of the “ShiftBhutan programme”—an innovative campaign accelerator model developed by Save the Children providing youth between the age of 14 and 25 years the resources, funding, and networks for an impactful community campaign.