Women, Children and Youth Committee (NCYC) of the National Assembly (NA) has conducted two rounds of consultation meetings with National Commission of Women and Children (NCWC), assigned as the lead agency for coordination, implementing and reporting on the National Key Result Area (NKRA) 10 (Gender Equality) of the 12th FYP.
This took place after recognition of the immutable linkage between the Gross National Happiness (GNH) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the Parliament. Accordingly, the committee was given a task to report on SDG, Goal 5, which is gender equality in the Third Session of the Third Parliament.
The chairperson of the committee, Sombaykha MP, Dorjee Wangmo, presented the report on the SDG 5: “Gender Equality” in NA on 24th January along with their key findings, observation and recommendations.
As per the 12th FYP, NKRA 10 aims to create enabling policies and adequate support and facilities to promote gender equality in the country. In addition, it will also address the need of women and girls and remove barriers that limit their opportunities and potential.
She said that based on NKRA, NCWC has broadly categorized Agency Key Result Area (AKRA) into four which is to be implemented in 12th FYP. The four AKRA are women in decision making positions enhanced, gender friendly working conditions and environment strengthened, an effective and sustainable protection system and empowerment of women and children, and prevention, promotion and rehabilitation services improved.
As per their key findings, she said that one of the key challenge is achieving gender parity in tertiary education where female enrolment continuous to be lower with 85 girls for every 100 boys within Bhutan. However, NCWC is targeting 90 girls for every 100 boys by the end of 12th FYP, she added.
She said, “Women’s representation at decision making level is moderately lower than male counterparts in the Parliament, with only 15.3 percent, and similarly in local government and executive level.”
The other findings she shared in the House is with regard to the labour force participation rate which is significantly higher than males at 73.1 percent compared to 52.2 percent of female. Female youth unemployment of 12.9 percent is also higher compared to male unemployment rate at 9.2 percent, and it also revealed that women are engaged in lower quality jobs.
“The gender based violence against women remains one of the obstacles to the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment,” she added.
The committee has come up with six recommendations, which is to establish a strong and effective legal and policy (coordination) framework, promote multi-sectorial coordination mechanism to understand issue of gender and child and promote cooperation and ownership.
She said that there has to be more awareness programs, capacity building initiatives and main streaming gender and child issue in legislation, policies, plans and program.
Similarly, the other recommendations were to promote and strengthen gender friendly well being and child well being, promote job opportunities to reduce female unemployment and prioritize resources, in terms of technical, financial and human resources for gender equality and child protection and well being.
To this, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, said that the recommendation of establishing strong and effective legal and policy framework was launched recently, whereby it is ready to be implemented.
He said, “Human resources, at present, are limited in women organizations. However, the new policy reflects on human resources development and on how relevant stakeholders should come together to work towards gender equality.”
He also said that the talk on the need for separate act for women and children is under discussion, he added.
Panbang MP, Dorji Wangdi, said that recommendations on establishing a strong and effective legal and policy is seen as general, wherein it would be better if there is anything, in specific, which would benefit women and children on a larger scale.
He said, “There is a need of separate detention for women and children in all the dzongkhag, like the one in Thimphu and make it more feasible.”
After a long deliberation and a few additional recommendations, the House will continue the discussions on 28 January.
Meanwhile, SDGs Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls seek to end all forms of discrimination and eliminate violence against women and girls. The goal also ensures systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective into the legislations, plans and policies.