The fire of feminism is more than kindling in Bhutan, and most of the men ‘are’ in favor of equal gender opportunities. However, Bhutanese women are still reluctant to walk the ramp. Their participation in both politics and civil service is relatively very less. The parliament comprises of only 6 percent of women. Among the ten cabinet ministers in the country, only one of them is a woman.
Despite all the effort put to empower women, why are they not willing to be more active in the social realm?
“If your karma is good, you will be born as a man in your next life.” Is this true? Says who exactly? Such discourses make women believe they are somehow inherently inferior. That's not fair.
One of the major reasons is culture. Have you ever wondered how cultures came into existence in the first place? “They have been around for years and years. Cultural practices are just the way they are. We can’t help it.”
Actually, ‘we’ make culture. Surprise, surprise.
It is considered normal for women to stay home and look after children while men go out to work and earn. Since this practice is dominantly prevalent everywhere, we take it for granted.
We shrug and go, “Well, this is how things are.”
Not, it’s not. Just because something has been happening for a very long time doesn’t mean it cannot change. Culture is very dynamic. It can change, and we make that happen.
Bhutanese women also face various social and personal obstacles. The society isn’t as supportive as it claims to be. Even if women are highly literate and ambitious, she has to think about her family, husband and kids.
Even movies somehow idolize the traditional form of family. There is always a strong and dashing man coming to a helpless woman’s rescue. They also contribute to embedding the notion of patriarchy in the minds of people. Men save women. That’s normal. But if you think beyond what is considered normal, you will realize that the notion of ‘normal’ can change.
However, it is really in ‘our’ hands to bring about such changes. We can always start small. For instance, as I write this, I’m considering taking part in the upcoming inter-college writing contest.
P.S: What I wrote then later got published in this Tribute book that RTC had made for His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.