Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck interacts with the people of Sampheling gewog at Chumigthang MSS, Phuentsholing
Teach your sons to respect women: HM Gyalyum
HM Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck joins students of P/Ling to observe IMD
IWD: Observing the International Women’s Day (IWD) yesterday, Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck underlined the importance of parental roles and country’s HIV status to the student crowd Chumigthang Middle Secondary School and villagers of Sampheling gewog, Phuentsholing.
Her Majesty said that parents have greater responsibility to teach their sons to respect women.
“Fathers are role models sons look up to,” she said. “It is your duty to show and tell your sons that a woman deserves respect and love and should never be abused.”
Young boys must understand that if they are more powerful or stronger, they have the responsibility to protect those who are weaker and not abuse them, said Her Majesty.
IWD is observed globally to encourage greater women’s participation, contribution in all development spheres.
Her Majesty said that a total of 480 people have been detected with HIV positive in the country.
“Many more remain undetected in our communities, who may be unwittingly spreading the virus,” she said. “The epidemic continues to outpace national response and numbers continue to rise.”
Her Majesty urged health ministry and other relevant agencies to accelerate their responses to control the spread of HIV in the country.
Her Majesty said that Bhutanese women are fortunate and enjoy a greater degree of freedom and equality compared to women in many countries.
“Our Kings have always given the highest priority to women and children’s development, their health, and well-being,” said Her Majesty.
Her Majesty also highlighted violence against women. Despite collective measures to prevent, protect, and assist victims, violence against women is prevalent in the country.
“The number of cases of sexual and gender-based violence is increasing year after year and is a growing national concern,” said Her Majesty. “Unfortunately, children are often caught up in the midst of these situations. They are either witness to, or experiencing some kind of domestic or sexual violence each year.”
UN System’s resident coordinator, Chirstina Carlson, expressed her appreciation for the government’s efforts to promote gender equality in the country.
“Prime Minister was among those who pledged to STEP IT UP and committed to end discrimination against women by 2030 and announced concrete and measurable actions to kick-start rapid change in their countries,” she said.
Chirstina Carlson said that Prime Minister has pledged that the government will increase representation of women in governance and decision-making at all levels and strengthen targeted programmes for the economic empowerment of women.
“Spread the word among your friends and family that violence against women and girls at home or anywhere else should not be tolerated,” said Chirstina Carlson. “When mothers, sisters, aunts and other women are empowered to pursue a future of their choosing, this promotes a stronger and healthier society.”
Lyonpo Dorji Choden, who is also the chairman of the National Commission for Women and Children, highlighted issues related to domestic violence, rape cases, early marriages, and divorce. She said that all should work together to reduce and eradicate such problems.
Gender equality and full enjoyment of human rights remain elusive for millions of girls. Nearly 14 million children are forced into marriage every year — 37,000 girls being denied their fundamental human rights every single day.
Every day, 7.3 million babies in developing countries are born to mothers who are 17 or younger. One in three women are subject to gender-based violence, and 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.
Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing
The high cost of connecting Bhutan’s remotest gewogs
Establishing a community centre in these gewogs could cost at least Nu 8 million each
Community: The establishment of community centres in five remaining gewogs may not be possible given high costs, it was pointed out by the Department of Information Technology and Telecom during its mid-term review (MTR) held last month.
The five gewogs are Soe, Naro, and Lingzhi in Thimphu, and Laya and Lunana in Gasa.
The department recommended three options: that the government approve additional funds for the establishment of centres in the five gewogs, provide the gewogs with public services through mobile connectivity, or reduce the target to 200 gewogs.
The government plans to establish a centre in each of Bhutan’s 205 gewogs.
Of the five gewogs, only Laya is connected with electricity while the remaining are off-grid.
The average cost to construct a community centre that is connected to a motor road is around Nu 2 million. As the four off-grid gewogs are not connected by motor road, the construction cost is expected to double to around Nu 4 million.
“We can’t really say what would be the actual cost of construction in these gewogs until we get the estimate from the dzongkhag but our assumption would be double the estimate from the past only for the construction,” said Department of Information Technology and Telecom ICT officer, Jamyang Sonam.
As the community centres are off-grid, a power source would also have to be provided. One of the options being considered is solar energy.
Information and communication secretary, Dasho Kinley Dorji said that the cost of providing solar energy equipment to the off-grid centres would be around Nu 4 million each. This would mean that the total cost of one centre would be around Nu 8 million. This excludes costs associated with equipment and last mile wireless technology.
“We are exploring alternatives for the community centres, draft proposal providing laptop and printer with alternative power generator or solar which ever is cheaper, in these gewogs,” Jamyang Sonam said. He added that DITT is also exploring two technologies, VSAT, which is a satellite communications system, and radio, to connect the off-grid gewogs with internet.
Dasho Kinley Dorji said that most community centres were not economically viable but that the four off-grid ones are basically unaffordable. He added that the communities that would be served by the four centres are also very small.
Lingzhi, the remotest gewog in Thimphu is connected by a mule track and has a population of 495, followed by Naro with 189, and Soe with 183. There are a total of 174 households and 41 villages in the three gewogs.
In Lunana, an eight-day walk from Gasa dzong, the population is around 705, with 155 households. Laya has a population of 1,200 and 149 households.
Dasho Kinley Dorji added that the four gewogs would not be dropped completely from the plan and that once electricity reaches, community centres could be provided.
DITT is hoping to establish a community centre in Laya by next year.
“The fund for the construction of a CC in Laya gewog has been proposed in next fiscal year and hopefully we can start the construction work in the beginning of next fiscal year,” Jamyang Sonam said.
However, there may be some hope for the three off-grid gewogs in Thimphu. Thimphu dzongdag, Dasho Tshewang Rinzin, said that work is ongoing to connect the four gewogs with electricity. He said that the effort may take a year.
Currently, to ease the burden of obtaining public services by residents of the three gewogs, applications are collected by the gewog and brought down to the nearest point connected to the internet.
Gyalsten K Dorji
Amici del Bhutan - Italy