New York: In the aftermath of its historic transition to a democratic constitutional monarchy, Bhutan on Friday informed the United Nations that the government was committed to not only improve the status of women, but also ensure that they have equal status in the society.
"We want to ensure that a culture of gender equality is preserved and strengthened and that any prevailing anomalies do not become accepted norms," said Lyonpo Ygyen Tshering, the Bhutanese Foreign Minister, while presenting his country`s seventh periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Bhutan has made gender a cross-cutting theme for the first time, in the Five-Year Plan, and it has installed gender focal points in the Gross National Happiness Commission and the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), he said.
Women are also asserting themselves, participating in all walks of life, including politics, in increasing numbers, Tshering said.
Lauding those steps, the committee members, however, expressed concern over persistent patriarchal roles and values that discriminated against women and fed the so-called "culture of silence" over the domestic violence women suffered.
They wondered if Bhutan is preparing law enforcement and the judiciary to tackle gender-based violence and appropriately assist victims, and whether girls and women, particularly in remote areas, had access to education and health care.
Members of the Bhutanese delegation said the NCWC had conducted national training programmes with judges, police officers and civil society, sending them to Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan and other countries for that training, with the help of UN funding.
It has also held national consultations on how women`s issues were addressed through the police and judicial proceedings, as well as workshops on domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, the minister said.