Phuentsholing on May 11: The need to spark off the role of men and boys in gender equality was one of the major issues that was much stressed by participants during a sensitization workshop of Druk Adolescents’ Initiative for Sexual Awareness Network (DAISAN) and the Community Based Support System (CBSS) volunteers of Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW).
UN Women is currently leading a global HeForShe campaign to spread awareness among men and boys to prevent discrimination and violence against women and girls. In Bhutan, the focus is on training local focal points through the DAISAN and CBSS to educate the larger public.
Dechen, one of the senior volunteers who has been working on gender equality since 2007 said, “It is not only a women’s issue but an issue of fundamental human rights.”
Expressing his concerns on the issue, Tenzin Thinley, a teacher in Dagana in southern Bhutan said, “Men often do not realize how much pain and hardship women undergo in their lives as they have to take care of their children and attend to household chores.”
However, Tenzin feels that this change in mindset is already taking place in Bhutan and hopes to advocate such issues among his students and peers.
Pelden, one of the participants has been working for the Women and Child Protection Unit of the Royal Bhutan Police for the last two years. She says she deals with seven to eight domestic violence cases every day. Most of the cases Pelden attends to are reported by women working in drayangs and women from rural areas.
According to RENEW, there have been over 389 registered cases of domestic violence within the last three years. However, there are many more cases that go unreported as 68.4 percent of Bhutanese women accept domestic violence according to a National Statistics Bureau survey.
Rinzi Pem, the National Coordinator, UN WOMEN in Bhutan said, “The campaign in Bhutan is being supported by UN Women and so far, three sensitization workshops have been conducted. We are want to engage men and boys and make them champions against gender-based violence.
There are also plans to conduct community outreach programmes through RENEW volunteers in Wangdue among teachers and office-goers to educate students on gender issues. “It is good to educate young people at the early stage for a better future”, said Kinley Dema, one of the volunteers.
“HeForShe is a global movement to end gender inequality by 2030 and the goal is to engage men and boys as agents of change to achieve equality.” Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, Representative, for UN Women in India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka