The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR), Minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo launched the Human Development Report (HDR) 2014 in Thimphu yesterday.
United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), Resident representative Christina Carlson said that Bhutan is not alone in facing the challenge of youth unemployment problems and that globally the number of young people looking for work is growing steadily. She said young people often lack education, experience, networks and resources to create employment.
Christina Carlos said the HDR urges policy makers to recommit to the objectives of full employment in order to strengthen resilience and sustain the progress of a nation. “Long term unemployment is a serious threat to physical and mental health and unemployment tends also to be associated with the increase in crime, suicide, violence, substance abuse and other social problems,” she said
She said, “Measures to tackle youth unemployment include supporting youth through skill development and vocational training programs, as well as developing the private sectors and promoting innovation.”
She said out of 149 countries Bhutan ranks 102 in terms of gender inequality index and this index reflects gender base inequalities in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity. Bhutan has a relatively low position globally because the adolescent birth rate in Bhutan is slightly higher than the average of south Asia and almost ten times higher than Maldives.
She said UNFPA is working on institutionalizing sexuality education in Bhutan to prevent teenage pregnancies and early marriages, which push young girls into vulnerable life situations.
MoLHR, Minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said, “we should be happy to see the human development-taking place at a steady pace. Bhutan does not have poverty like in other countries but still we cannot be complacent. Bhutan also has many districts, like Gasa, Zhemgang and Dagana which are some of the poorest dzongkhags in the country.”
“Sometimes with the National report, we tend to be very complacent but it is very important to dissect every gewog, chiwog and dzongkhag and see whether we have achieved human development in these areas,” he added.
He said, “It is very easy to say Bhutan is self-reliance but we need to go into reality. The report is very relevant to Bhutan. I was impressed was unemployment aspect of it. Globally youth unemployment rate is 12.7% where as youth unemployment in Bhutan is 9.6%. Given our size of the population and a small economy, youth unemployment is at an alarming size.”
He said the challenges are numerous with the unemployment problem in Bhutan. He said Bhutan needed to work very hard to make it able for the education system and industries to create employment for youths. He said it was important to collaborate with the private sector to tackle the unemployment problem.
He said Policy makers, local government leaders such as Dzongdas and gups and the people should join hand together to build the collective future. .
The report asserts that those who face multiple deprivations like marginalized communities, unemployed youths, women, and senior citizens are especially at risk of falling back into poverty if disasters or crises occur. It also urges governments to commit the universal provision of basic social services and social protection to build resilience, especially for the poor and other vulnerable groups. It urges that countries in Asia and Pacific do not have to wait to become rich in order to provide adequate social protection or social services.
The report also urges the government to fast-track education reform policies and to accelerate broad- based economic growth to create decent and well-paid jobs that are essential to improving living standards.
Christina Carlson said that the development impact of disasters and the number of lives lost are not the same in all countries. The report has found the reasons for this are policies and steps that can be taken to reduce vulnerability and help to build resilience of communities to withstand different types of shocks.
She said that the report finds that children and the elderly are particularly at risk and vulnerable to the effects of disaster and other crises. Policy makers can reduce this risk and the potential impact through targeted investment in life capabilities at key stages in people’s lives such as early child food nutrition and education, job training and pro-active labour market policy, and social and economic support and engagement for ageing populations.
Christina Carlson said that UNICEF is working together with Ministry of Health on infant child feeding practices such as promoting breast-feeding.