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Empowering women in Bhutan

The equality of sexes and discrimination of women are most talked about subjects with the institutions of NGOs like the CEDAW, NCWC and RENEW etc here in Bhutan.

I personally have never experienced discrimination, be it at home or in the society. My parents though illiterates have never objected to me doing anything. I have taken all my decisions ever since I could recall and my folks were completely agreeable with it. Like me there are so many others who are fortunate to have very liberal parents and less cynical neighborhood.

But this is not the case for every woman in the Bhutanese society. We read cases of battery, violence and discrimination against women in the everyday paper. There are less fortunate women who falls prey to the ruthless husbands. Newspapers report of such cases but there are many more unreported for the fear of publicity and disgrace.

For such women the NGOs like NCWC and RENEW are very helpful. They help those women in need and help her establish a life for herself. The question is how many women would seek help? Most uneducated women are not willing to part with her husband despite violence because they think the children will suffer. After all, a child without father is not treated right in our society.

Well who’s behind this discrimination against women? Most men today are educated and hence consider the women are their equal. But there are those men with ancient thinking that they consider themselves superior to their female counterpart. And the women, at least some women are equally to be blamed. I have seen some women who think they are inferior. Those women are always willing to let the men lead them and they follow. Maybe it’s the women themselves who causes discrimination against them in the first place. In order to be treated equal it’s important to act equal.

But then discrimination is almost non-existent in Bhutan. We are fortunate to be born here. Today most discrimination against women occurs in the extremist countries with Islamic religion. We can only sympathize with those women clad in bhurkha from head to toe.

“The days when women’s sole aim in life is to secure a husband are long gone” (Penny Jordan). It’s time we stand up for ourselves and speak up to be heard.

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