Thimphu, 8 March 2023,
The international Women’s Day (IWD) was observed to celebrate this year’s global theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” in order to address the barriers of gender gap in access to technology and representation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Addressing challenges in technology and gender equality also include creating awareness on online
gender based violence (GBV) and related factors that pose considerable threats to women in
innovation and technology. At the same time, the IWD 2023 sheds light on the opportunities for women in the digital age, represented by evidence based studies that help understand the positive socio economic impact of creating more avenues for women in the technological sector. Bhutan’s focus on
gender mainstreaming has been a long term national goal, acknowledging it to be cross cutting. In the past few years, considerable efforts have been made to ensure evidence-based implementation of policy and legal frameworks to improve opportunities and encourage women’s participation in various levels of decision making.
This year’s IWD was organized by the Women and Children Division, MoESD and RENEW in collaboration with JICA, at the Gawaling Happy Home, Thimphu. The event was graced by Dasho Tshewang Chophel Dorji, Acting Secretary, Ministry of Education and Skills Development. Furthermore, the event also included key stakeholders including government agencies, International Organisations, CSOs, NGOs, youths and private individuals who play an important role in prioritizing women in broad sectors of national development.
The event was also an ideal opportunity to present on the success story of the Druk Groom People Strategically (GPS), a know-how technology for the search and rescue operation especially designed to save lives and protect girls and women in distress situations. The Druk GPS team has been traveling around the country educating communities on the use of the GPS (Global Positioning System) and its applications. And also the key findings of the study titled “the assessment of Gender issues in Major Hydro Power, Road and Bridge Construction sites in Bhutan” was disseminated. This study was a first of its kind in the country presenting the existing gender disparities and discrimination in the power and construction sectors, including communities in the vicinity of these sites. Findings project a major disparity in the participation of men and women in the construction industry, which accounts for more than 5% of the total labour force. However, only 13% of them are female workers indicating a deeply- gendered occupation segregation where women mostly occupy lower-level unskilled works such as administrative assistants.
In addition, other gender issues previals in hydropower, road, and bridge construction sites including violence, sexual harassment against female workers, lack of a conducive environment for female employees, as well as issues related to occupational safety. Recommendations of the study include strengthening of policy and legal frameworks, comprehensive awareness on GBV and improving decision making opportunities for women in Bhutan.
The event also included a brief introduction on the Dessup Skilling Program (DSP) particularly involvement of women. The DSP is a nation wide skilling program initiated under the benevolent guidance of His Majesty the King. The program is a consolidation of a series of short-term accelerated trainings in various fields of vocational education for men and women in Bhutan. The introduction to the DSP aimed to provide information on current opportunities for hands-on skills development under the program and encourage participation.