The first ever Women4Impact kicked off in Bhutan on 31 October with more than 50 delegates from 15 countries. Women4Impact is a life-changing event to empower women in the pursuit of peace, democracy, sustainability and equality.
Women4Impact is the combined effort of HRH Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, President of JSW School of Law, Ambassador MelanneVerveer, Executive Director of Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and the first United States Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, and social enterprise, Impact Traveller.
HRH Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, graced the opening ceremony, sharing insights on how Bhutan’s young democracy is making great strides towards gender equality.
During the inauguration, Impact Traveller founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sam McGoun, informed the gathering that travel has the greatest single potential for social impact because it offers the gift of perspective.
“We have selected Bhutan for the inaugural Women4Impact event because of the country’s enlightened and selfless leadership, its sustainable development model, and its commitment to measuring prosperity in terms of enduring happiness for all,” she said.
By gathering here, she said that they hope they can learn from Bhutan – a small country that is bringing big ideas into the world at a time when they need it the most.
The four-day event includes knowledge-sharing sessions focused on leadership, Gross National Happiness (GNH) and equitable socio-economic development. The program also features opportunities for international business leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists to connect with local communities in Bhutan, and immerse themselves in the Kingdom’s dramatic natural surrounds.
Ambassador Verveer, in her opening remarks, said, “It is wonderful to be in this Kingdom of Happiness and particularly to be part of this focus on women for impact. This is the only country in the world where the GNH undergirds development philosophy – and part of that is recognising the very critical role women play in development.”
Today, there is greater recognition that women’s empowerment is absolutely central to any effort to solve the world’s most pressing challenges – because no country can get ahead if half of its people are left behind, she added.
Meanwhile, Women4Impact has also committed to fund scholarships for Bhutanese girls to attend JSW Law’s five-year program as well as raise valuable funds to support GIWPS research for women.
Dean of JSW Law, Sangay Dorjee, introduced three JSW Law students who shared their inspirational stories and their hopes for the future of Bhutan.
Sonam Yangchen, JSW Law Class of 2022, spoke about the role of good governance in promoting gender equality. Similarly, Tashi Norbu, JSW Law Class of 2022, highlighted the importance of leadership. “We don’t just stumble upon happiness, we follow our leaders’ positive example,” he said.
Yeshey Dema, JSW Law Class of 2023, talked about the importance of Driglam Namgzhag, the nation’s centuries-old code of etiquette and conduct, in creating a civil society.