The beginning of this week has been an important one as we observed the International Women’s Day to celebrate the success and achievements of women in different spheres of life.
We cannot deny the important roles that women play in our life – as mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses and friends. Even an adage goes that men make houses, women make homes. However, many a time this homemaking role is perhaps what has confined and limited our women from realizing their true potential. The homemaking role is what appears as their sole role that we unfortunately don’t see that they are as much as, perhaps even beyond, capable of handling and taking up other roles.
In different areas of life today, we have seen and we are seeing many women and exemplary ones leaving behind the socially constructed inhibitions and breaking the cocoon that has hindered them for ages.
In different domains of life today, we have seen them excel. We have seen them raise bars; we are seeing them making changes and being the harbinger of these changes whether it is in lawmaking, politics, governance, and administration or as professionals.
Despite the developments that women are making, there are much more that needs to be done if the numbers are any indication. Going by numerically, we have much more that needs to be done to narrow the chasm between men and women.
While women comprise 49% of the population, it’s dispiriting that there is only 15% representation in the parliament. Further, out of the 205 Local Government leaders, only two are women so far. It’s disheartening, therefore, when even women don’t support women in the country today when it comes to assuming leadership roles and responsibilities.
Further, figures as of 2019 show that women comprise 38.15% of the total civil servants. At executive leadership level, women hold only 14% representation.
We have, therefore, miles to go and in need of more pragmatic efforts and initiatives if we are even to near or equal the common threshold of 33% to equal gender representation and voice at decision and leadership. At least a respite for now is that we see a start being made. We see issues being thrashed out, and problems and solutions being explored to bridge the gender gap that is ostensible today.
One positive side is that Bhutanese women enjoy equal rights and opportunities as men. The main hindrance when it comes to women leadership and women empowerment is due to gender disparity that is still in the society because of the existing cultural bias and stereotyping.
All of us, therefore, have a role here – as fathers, sons, brothers, partners, colleagues and friends. A small change or effort that we can begin with is by starting from our homes by genuinely rendering our support and confidence in our women. All we can do is by giving them the love and respect that they deserve. While it may take time, it’s worth the time if we are able to break the norms that are holding our women back today.