This blog is part of a series of discussions and activities that the World Bank South Asia Social Development team is organizing to mark the 16 Days of Activism, a worldwide campaign to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV).
Home should be a haven—a place to live and create joyful memories with our families.
Not so for Sonam*. When Bhutan went into lockdown after COVID-19 hit, the young mother of two sought support from the authorities to find shelter.
It's been a difficult journey. Sonam, her two children, and 41 other women, including girls, now reside in the Gawailing Happy Home, a 24/7 residential care facility for women and children who are domestic and gender-based violence survivors. The place also welcomes children and young adults without any resources, who are vulnerable to crime, assault, and rape, and need protection, food, and shelter.
A 2017 study on violence against women and girls in the country revealed that Of these women, less than five percent sought help from women support groups and organizations.
Gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls is one of Bhutan's most significant social issues today, impacting health, well-being, productivity, and overall development
The National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), a leading organization that promotes and protects women and children's rights in Bhutan, handles an average of five daily women and child abuse cases through its toll-free helpline or as walk-in services.
Bhutan's response to the pandemic's health and social impacts has been quick and commendable. At the same time,The civil society organization recorded a total of 407 GBV cases during the pandemic period alone.
A small country nestled in the eastern Himalayas between China and India, Bhutan boasts one of the smallest but fastest-growing economies in the world. It has been a success story in poverty reduction.
Despite this remarkable economic progress, disparities between women and men persist.
The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), the Royal Government of Bhutan's planning commission, has been instrumental in initiating and coordinating action on gender equality issues. Every policy and project is assessed using a GNH Policy Screening Tool that includes gender equality as a key criterion.
The government has redoubled efforts to bring the spirit of Gross National Happiness to all Bhutanese through gender-responsive approaches
Further, a World Bank-supported National Gender Equality Policy was developed in early 2020 to provide a national policy directive to promote gender equality and address gender gaps and inequalities, taking into account women's particular needs.
Subsequently, a Standard Operating Procedures for Gender-Based Violence prevention and response was launched to provide clear guidance on GBV prevention and mitigation for organizations and individuals working on GBV. A capacity-building support to all GBV actors in all 20 Districts and four Municipalities or Thromdes across Bhutan was also completed.
* Name has been changed to protect real identity
Is there any NGO or civil society organisation in Bhutan? If there, please let me know.
Dr Dipankar Datta
Thanks for writing on this. Bhutan would be different from other countries in that region I thought. Sadly, it is not with respect to violence against women.
Thanks for highlighting the challenges and also presenting the solutions to GBV and the special cases resulting from COVID lockdown.