As was done internationally across the globe on 8 March, the International Women’s Day was also celebrated in Bhutan as well in Ugyen Academy, Punakha.
The world celebrates International Women’s Day to reflect on the progress made toward gender equality, it is also a day to celebrate the achievements that women have made over the years through campaigns and struggles for their rights.
With the theme, “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against violence”, the day was jointly organized by Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW), National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ugyen Academy and Punakha Dzongkhag Administration with financial support from UN systems in Bhutan.
The RENEW press release states, “The day is an occasion not only to reflect on past struggles and accomplishments, but more importantly, to look forward to the untapped potentials and opportunities that await future generations of women”.
The highlight of the day was a seminar on ‘The status of women and girls in Bhutan’ where students of higher secondary schools in and around Punakha and Wangduephodrang will take part, stated the press release. It further stated that they will engage in a quality dialogue on how Bhutan is faring in terms of gender equality and equity and more importantly the students will propose their strategies in bringing about positive change.
The ceremony was graced by Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the Goodwill Ambassador to UNFPA and the President of RENEW.
In Her Majesty’s national address, she said “The 21st century has witnessed significant progress in the protection and promotion of women’s rights. The journey has been long and difficult- filled with many sacrifices made by women from all corners of the globe”.
She said the day is celebrated to pay tribute to all the selfless and courageous individuals who have toiled to fight for equality and justice. “While we celebrate our accomplishments we must not be complacent- as there is still much to be done to ensure that women all over the world enjoy the freedom to live in dignity,” Her Majesty said.
Over the years nations and international organizations have drafted and enacted legislations and resolutions to enhance the rights of women and she said “We have pledged our unstinting support- and yet there still remains unacceptable inequality”.
It is perhaps for this reason that this year’s global theme “A promise is a promise,” she said, “It is time to act- to ensure that our young girls have opportunities to pursue their dreams without the obstacles of gender bias and discrimination”.
She said, government and international organizations can pass laws and regulations, but they alone are not sufficient. Therefore, it is vital for every stakeholder to proactively strive to overcome the years of bias-that have inhibited young girls from living meaningful lives, she said adding that we need to change attitudes and perceptions that have kept woman from realizing their true potential.
She urged all youth, boys and girls to work together to make our country and the world a better place and wants our young girls to know that there are no limits except those that exist in our minds. “We must not allow ourselves to be restrained by outdated notions and attitudes”. She also said, our young girls are capable of and must be given the opportunity to become contributing and outstanding members of society,” said Her Majesty.
On 14 February, Bhutan was one of 200 countries that took part in the One Billion Rising; Bhutan pledged to put an end to violence against women.