The macho-women of Zhomgmaed

20130522_172548This article sets out to explore the possibility that some parts of the villages in the dzongkhag have female-centered households that survive without the muscle-power of men

On a recent visit by a civil servant to Zhomgmaed, a village in Lhuentse, the civil servant found the village appeared deserted, not because of its inherent status as a remotely situated village, but starkly in terms of the lack of male population.

The place had hardly any men, unlike the other villages in Lhuentse.

Later, it was known that the village just had only two male members and outnumbered by women. This is also a chief reason why all the women had gone to fields to work, giving the village an appearance of a visible ghost village.

Out of the five male in the village, two men were arrested in connection to the burglary of elephant tusks this year, one is registered dead, with the women left to fend for themselves.

The village consist more of old women with few numbers of young girls, and just two male who find life difficult.

The village, located at a far flung area of Lhuentse tells the story of how the women in this village have to fill in for work that requires muscle power, and thereby undertake all chores and errands regardless of the heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, chopping, slicing, and dicing involved.

It is, however, not entirely unnoticeable that women here suffer from hardship in absence of men.

Zhomgmaed is a mountain village in Lhuentse, and the ladies struggle to carve out a living by tilling the earth by the sweat of their brows, as would the male members of families in other villages.

A woman is found cutting wood at her backyard. She is used to doing such manly works including work on the field, and she must do it alone as there are no male hands to work in the fields.

“If I don’t do it, how can my family and I survive?” asked the 54 year-old woman.

Like her, many women have expressed the same views. The women slowly emerge from their supporting roles as wives and daughters to survive by replacing and acquainting themselves with the field works.

With a total of 25 households which are all clustered, only 16 households are occupied.

The remaining houses remains empty as most of them have settled with their children in Punakha, Thimphu, and Paro.

The Metsho Gup, Tshering Samdrup said that women do all the farm works except for ploughing the fields. They hire men from other nearby villages and pay the wages.

“There are more number of old age women compared to young ones and they struggle while working in fields. They do all the works which are otherwise supposed to be done by the men,” he said.

The village has no tshogpa and it falls under Metsho gewog of Lhuentse. It is about 12 kilometer away from road point of Gorgan town which is about few kilometers away from Autsho town.

It is believed once the Shingkhar–Gorgan highway completes, the road will benefit the people of Zhomgmaed since the highway will pass through the village.


Chencho Dema 

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  1. women always claims that there no gender gaps…what men are capable of doing can be done by women…so i think it is time to prove it….

  2. Yeshi Selwai Melong

    While I like the focus of the story on our Bhutanese women taking on full responsibility for anything for family’s sustainability which is common across many villages in rural Bhutan, the story posted here needs proper validation and research. I know this village situation very well. The data reported here are utter nonsense.

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