Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck was presented an award in recognition of Her Majesty’s role in helping advance the rights of women and girls in Bhutan as the Goodwill Ambassador of UNFPA for the last 20 years In Thimphu on Thursday, coinciding with the UN Day celebrations.
Dr. Natalia Kanem, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, who presented the award, acknowledged the contribution by Her Majesty and for being a driving force behind UNFPA’s advocacy efforts in Bhutan.
She commended Her Majesty for being a strong role model for women and girls in Bhutan and travelling to remote villages of Bhutan to raise awareness on issues ranging from safe motherhood to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AlDS.
Her Majesty accepted the role as UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador in January 1999. Since then, Her Majesty has led numerous advocacy programs on HIV/AIDS, reproductive, sexual and mental health throughout the country. Her Majesty also established a civil society organization named, ‘RENEW’ which is an acronym for Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women in 2004, to empower vulnerable women, especially victims and survivors of domestic violence.
Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck said she is extremely touched and honored to receive this recognition for her role as UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.
“I most humbly accept this award on behalf of all who have tirelessly worked along with me to advance the rights and provide choices for women and girls in Bhutan,” Her Majesty said.
Her Majesty added: “Every day is an opportunity to invest in the future of humanity and each of us is responsible for a better tomorrow. It is in this spirit that I have been associated with the UNFPA and the United Nations for the past two decades.”
Her Majesty said she draws great inspiration from His Majesty The King and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, role models for all of us to emulate.
“My parents loved and encouraged each of us nine siblings equally regardless of gender to realize our full potential. My mother and my late father have been examples of simplicity, hard work and tenacity. To them, I offer my love and gratitude,” Her Majesty said.
Her Majesty also said that her long association with people from all walks of life, across the country has left an indelible impact and gives her the strength and purpose to continue to strive to make a difference in their lives.
“Bhutan today is very different than what it was twenty years ago. Our social indicators have surpassed our expectations. Maternal and infant mortality rates have declined, almost all our girls are in schools and female literacy has improved. But much, much more needs to be done and we pledge to persevere relentlessly till every girl child and woman can hold their head high as equal partners in every sphere,” Her Majesty said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Natalia Kanem, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, said, “Your Majesty, your role as UNFPA goodwill ambassador since 1999 has been the driving force behind our advocacy efforts in Bhutan. You are such a strong role model for women and girls here in Bhutan, and your commitment to the citizens in this country is inspiring. From far-flung villages to anywhere the unreachable reside, you have travelled to so many remote areas in difficult terrains to speak to people on issues ranging from safe motherhood to information about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.”
She added: “Your Majesty’s deep investment in the progress of Bhutan has made a huge difference to the work UNFPA is trying to achieve in this country – that is zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths and zero instances of gender-based violence and harmful practices. With you at the helm of our advocacy efforts, we are certain Bhutan will show the way to the rest of the world. Words cannot express our collective gratitude for your strong, compassionate leadership and for all that you have done for women, girls and young people in Bhutan.”
Tshering from Thimphu