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Women aren’t seen equal to men – and it will take sometime

I personally feel that in Bhutan, there isn’t much gender discrimination. I say this from my experience and not from any research. However, it seems, in reality, it exists and the notion of gender in-equality is implanted in us through our culture and it will take sometime before it changes. For example, during the recent parliamentary election campaign, when a woman politician was taking part, an old woman from a village was heard lamenting that it is sad to see that we have come to a time where, we have to rely on women to be the leaders! This made me feel a bit sad. I have always been aware that the gender in-equality in Bhutan, if at all existed bred through our culture and tradition – yet, it threw me back a bit when this reality was heard spoken.

We have the age-old saying that, ‘men are nine steps ahead of women’ (if I could translate it roughly). A household is usually headed by men, and when it comes to the meals times, they are served first. This tradition isn’t very common in the urban areas and among the educated lots but it still exists in the villages. A descriptive analysis of the data from Gross National Happiness Survey 2010 shows how gender difference is inculcated in our mind through our culture: Out of 7142 respondents, 62.6% agrees that women are more suited for domestic work than men, while only 28% of them disagrees with this statement. 79% of these respondents agree with the statement that ‘Females tend to carry drip, so certain customs like women & girls not being allowed in certain parts of lhakhang, or to touch the bow before a man’s archery game, are valid’. It is such cultures and traditions that we are bred through that make us think women are unequal to men by nature.

On a similar line, out of 7140 respondents, 30.5% agree that education is more important for a boy than a girl. Again, 30.5% of 7132 respondents said that on the whole men make better leaders than women do. This is a high percentage and if we must achieve the equality we talk so much about, I think we should change this mindset.

Break down of the responses:

1. Women are more suited for domestic work than men
Response 
Frequency
Percent
Agree
4469
62.6
Neither agree nor disagree
666
9.3
Disagree
2001
28.0
Don't know
6
.1
Total
7142
100.0

2. Certain customs like women being not allowed in certain part of the lhakhang is valid
 Response
Frequency
Percent
Agree
5661
79.3
Neither agree nor disagree
588
8.2
Disagree
701
9.8
Don't know
192
2.7
Total
7142
100.0

3. Education is more important for boy than a girl

Frequency
Percent
Agree
1243
17.4
Neither agree nor disagree
685
9.6
Disagree
5190
72.7
Don't know
22
.3
Total
7140
100.0

4. On the whole men make better leaders than women do

Frequency
Percent
Agree
2177
30.5
Neither agree nor disagree
1068
15.0
Disagree
3840
53.8
Don't know
47
.7
Total
7132
100.0


Comments

Winton Bates said…
It is excellent that such a high proportion reject the idea that education is more important fro boys than girls.
That is a good reason to be hopeful about the future.

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