Engaging youth for gender equity and inclusion

Engaging youth for gender equity and inclusion

RENEW collaborates with MAVA and Samuh to engage Bhutanese youth in discussions on gender equality and inclusion

Respect, Educate, Nurture, and Empower Women (RENEW) hosted a three-day program to promote youth and women’s empowering engagement through gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. The other objective is to provide a platform for this group to voice their opinions, build networks, nurture solidarity for collective action, and, most importantly, see them reflected as key stakeholders in the process of decision-making for their own needs.

Tsheten Lhamo, Assistant Program Officer said that young people are the energizing forces of nations across the world. “Their empowerment is vital for enabling their own development, helping them to learn vital life skills and human rights and deal with challenges.”

Engaging youth for gender equity and inclusion

She added that young people are faced with numerous challenges in responding to health and social priorities. There is an increase in teenage pregnancy and issues surrounding adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, and mental health among adolescents.

The Assistant Program Officer said, “The objective of the program is to provide a platform for the young people to express their concerns in various different mediums. Young people are very creative; if given such a platform, they have the potential to be expressive.”

The Assistant Program Officer said that this year they used a film, which was a medium not only to attract the attention of audiences but also to express the subject matter very explicitly and trigger discussions on such subject matter.

She shared that it was a great lesson for them as well, to create such a forum for young individuals as much as possible. “We should focus more on providing such a platform in the future.”

On the third day of the program, they presented a youth conclave program focusing on discovering advocacy materials on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, and mental health presented by the students from different schools and colleges.

Yeshey Dema, one of the volunteers and the youth representative on the working board, said that the program was launched with the aim of giving a voice to the youth, creating networks, promoting solidarity, and empowering them to participate in the decision-making process.

Meanwhile, RENEW has been engaging young people, and this year a three-day gender advocacy program was held in Thimphu from August 29th to 31st, aiming to raise awareness and promote dialogue on crucial gender-related topics such as equality, diversity, and inclusion. The program was organized by RENEW in collaboration with MAVA (Men Against Violence and Abuse), a social organization based in Mumbai, India, and Samuh, supported by IPPF and Helvetas.

The program featured thematic film screenings for young people aged 16 to 25, followed by panel discussions with filmmakers, activists, and experts. The films covered topics such as gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s empowerment. The panelists shared their insights and experiences on the challenges and opportunities for advancing gender equality and inclusion in Bhutan.

Engaging youth for gender equity and inclusion

The program also provided a platform for participants to engage in debate and reflection on their own perceptions and biases regarding gender issues. The students from different schools in Thimphu, Paro, and Wangdue; queer voices from Pride Bhutan; members of Y-Peer, a youth network for peer education; students of traditional medicine; attendees of Arura Academy, a leadership development program; members of Daisan, a social enterprise for women; Humans of Thimphu, a storytelling project; faculty of nursing and public health; and partners from civil society organizations attended the 3-day programs.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu