International Women’s Day



“Our work should equip the next generation of women to outdo us in every field. This is the legacy we will leave behind,” Rupi Kaur.

Your Royal Highness, Gyalsem Sonam Dechan Wangchuck. Honorable Minister for Works and Human Settlement, Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Honorable Home Minister, Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen, the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly, Tshogpon Jigme Zangpo, Dashos, Members of the Parliament. Distinguished guests. UN colleagues. Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today is the time to reflect on the progress that we have made and celebrate ordinary women who have made extraordinary differences in their lives and to the lives of other women.

 Global messages

We celebrate International Women’s Day.

  • The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said, I quote “On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
  • This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Time is Now; Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives.
  • This day will draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population and a majority of the 43 percent of women in the global agricultural labour force.

Today, we celebrate activists from both rural and urban communities who have transformed the lives of women around the world.

Bhutan – specific messages

  • Bhutan has made impressive progress in gender equality. Bhutanese women who constitute half the population have a strong position in the society. As compared to other South Asian countries, Bhutanese women have great advantages.
  • However, women account for 60 percent of the unemployed.
  • The proportion of women who earn income outside their own households is extremely small.
  • Today, in rural Bhutan, the agricultural sector is largely maintained by women; employing 110,000 women as compared to only 70,000 men. Traditional beliefs that women must inherit land to take the responsibility to care for aging parents has limited social and economic choices for women.

Support provided by the UN System in Bhutan

  • The UN with the Tarayana Foundation is working with rural communities to uplift the lives of Bhutanese women, especially nomadic women and single mothers.
  • We are strategically collaborating with the Government and other organizations through technical support, capacity building and advocacy to give access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services. We also support the promotion of rights based and integrated family planning services with other maternal and child health services.
  • While there are supportive legal and policy frameworks on violence against women, it still remains a significant problem. Seventy four percent of women believe that it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife or partner. A disturbing statistics of 33 percent of women report domestic violence.
  • The UN – in support of the NCWC – is currently in the process of doing a national study on violence against women and has already drafted a gender equality policy for Bhutan. We have also worked with RENEW to develop a consensus building manual.
  • We have been working with religious personnel to prevent violence against women and girls and work against harmful cultural practices.
  • I commend RENEW, NCWC and the RBP for making this International Women’s Day extra special this year.
  • For RENEW, an organization established only in 2004, you have provided great support to this society and have been a role model for CSO and the government’s relationship in the 12th Five Year Plan.

Launch of reports (supported by the UN system in Bhutan)

  • Today, also marks the launch of five publications. It was a privilege for the UN to support the NCWC to publish these four publications.
  1. SOP on Case Management for Women & Children in Difficult Circumstances
  2. Guidelines for Accreditation and Management of Shelter Homes for Women & Children in Difficult Circumstances
  3. Media Guidelines for Reporting on Women & Children
  4. Guidelines for Accreditation of Service Provider

Closing point

  • A lot is being done to empower women and narrow down the gender inequality gap. However, the question that we must all ask is, are we doing enough, both at our own individual level and at the level of our institutions? What more can we all do to achieve this common and important goal to achieve gender equality; not just in papers and in statistics, but in practicality?
  • The time is now to act for a future that is more equal. The time is now to transform what we have been doing at a policy level into action to empower women in all aspects of life.
  • How we follow through on women’s empowerment and equity may be one of the most essential aspects of GNH.
  • Collectively we can all play a part. It is the collective action and shared responsibilities for driving gender parity that makes International Women’s Day important. The struggle for women’s equality does not belong to one person or to one organization, but it is the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.
  • As the UN in Bhutan, we are in the process of formulating UN Sustainable Development Partnership Framework (2019- 2023), UNSDPF, a five year strategic plan which is aligned with the Government 12th Five Year Plan. Through this strategic plan, the UN in Bhutan will work for women’s equality and empowerment.
  • On this special day, please join me in celebrating women and honoring their work. Let us celebrate Aum Karma who is the backbone of her family as a housewife in Bumthang. Let us celebrate Zangmo who educates her three children by working in the farm in Trashigang. Let us celebrate young Pema who has made a name for herself in a male-dominated career in Thimphu. Let us honor every woman who play different roles in our lives in the best way possible.
  • The UN agencies of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women are fortunate to be supporting the RGOB and NCWC in this important work.
  • The Goal 5 of the SDGs is our mutual objective to achieve women’s empowerment and equality.
  • The work we are doing is equipping the next generation of women to outdo us in every field because this is the legacy we wish to leave behind.

Kadinchey and Tashi Delek.

Statement by Gerald Daly, UN Resident Coordinator

March 8, 2018

Royal Banquet Hall


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