In Bhutan, the Himalayan Kingdom renowned for the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), half the population has reason to be less than satisfied. Women generally do not hold leadership positions in the country – only 7% of elected officials are female, and decision-making in families and communities is typically dominated by men.
Watch this video to learn how READ Global and Beyond Access are working to change this through our program to empower women to become leaders:
The Women Represent program uses libraries as platforms for women’s groups to discuss important issues in the community, holds training programs to build public speaking and leadership skills, broadcasts listening programs on the radio to reach illiterate women through stories featuring female leaders, and offers art therapy to empower women and girls through introspection about their lives and dreams.
READ Bhutan Country Director Thinley Choden explains: “For us, the starting point is the grassroots level community. Our aim was to bring information, to bring certain skills, and really to get the women out of the household realm into the public realm and make them understand what role they can play at a community level, with the hope that eventually… it will percolate up to the national level.”
READ Bhutan’s new documentary shows the impact of Women Represent on these communities, changing cultural norms and boosting women’s participation in the public sphere.
“I think men and women have no differences now,” says Karma Choden, a woman farmer in rural Bhutan who participated in the program, “My biggest wish is that [my village] will have a woman leader in the future.”
About the author:
Helen Greene, READ Global Communications Intern
Helen is a senior at Princeton University studying Comparative Literature. Home for the summer of 2014, she joined READ Global as a Communications Intern, writing blog and social media posts, among other things. She looks forward to a career in the non-profit field focusing on women’s empowerment, health, and education.