Gender mainstreaming in Bhutan
The achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and SAARC Development Goals (SDGs) is a top priority for the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB). During the 10th Five-Year period (July 2008 – June 2013), RGoB has committed to achieving all of the gender equity goals in the various global compacts that it is party to, including the MDGs and SDGs, and implementing the full provisions of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
To facilitate achievement of these national and international gender goals and targets, a National Plan of Action (NPA) on Gender was formulated.
The government, in the area of governance, adopted strategies to integrate a gender perspective into policies and legislations; assess and address the causes for low participation of women; and increase women’s representation at all levels especially in local government. In order to bring about gender parity in education and training, strategies were adopted to ease the transition of females from the secondary to tertiary levels, after studying the causes of low performance by females at the tertiary level and greater female enrollment in technical, professional and vocational institutions were to be promoted.
Similarly, under the areas of economic development and employment, the government aimed to promote female participation in training programs; helping girls transition from school to work; promoting cottage and small rural-based enterprises with increased access to micro-credit; and addressing socio-cultural perceptions and stereotypes. In the area of women’s health, priority has been given to HIV/AIDS and STD control programs; reducing maternal mortality rates; reducing prevalence of anemia and cervical cancer; addressing teenage pregnancy issues; reducing IMR and U5MR; increasing access to information on sexual and reproductive health issues; improving quality of water and sanitation; and reducing indoor air pollution and the prevalence of Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI).
It was for the purpose of guiding the sectors in the mainstreaming process that the National Plan of Action for Gender (NPAG) was developed. However, the lack of technical expertise in the area of gender was a major hindrance to achieving targets set. And, it was for this purpose that the services of an international professional were sought.