Friday, 3 July 2009

Bhutan : Not bad but could be better

2 July, 2009 - Trafficking and exploitation for prostitution, violence against women, lack of political participation and stereotyping. The list goes on. Issues that women in Bhutan are still subjected to, according to the committee on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW).

These issues, presented by the national commission for women and children (NCWC), were discussed yesterday among various stakeholders, like the UN and the foreign and labour ministries.

The occasion was presided over by the foreign minister, Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering, the education minister, who is also chairperson of NCWC, Lyonpo Thakur S Powdyel, UN officials and foreign delegates.

In his address, Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering said that, in Bhutan, human rights gained importance during the 1990s. “So, the government decided that we should focus on issues of human rights, particularly with women and children and the environment, during participation in international forums.”

The NCWC executive director, Dr Rinchen Chophel, said that, although Bhutanese women enjoy far better rights, gender discrimination still exists. “Women are still subjected various forms of violence just because of a simple reason, that they are women.”

“We must have clearly defined policies for women from all sections of society - from the high-class family to a yak herder, as all are citizens of the country and should enjoy equal protection by law,” he added.

Last year’s data on position and gender in civil service showed only 30 percent of 19,516 civil servants were females. An increase of only one percent from 2007.

Bhutan joined CEDAW in July 17, 1980 and was one of the first member countries to ratify the convention in 1981.

Bhutan will also present its seventh CEDAW periodic report in New York on July 23.

By Kinga Dema

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