|Women's sickle in the handle of men's patang: Signifying|
the co-existence of men and women in the society.
On September 1, 2012, KCD Productions launched media programmes aiming at educating women and girls across the country at Terma Linca.
The programme drew lessons from Denmark where there are about 40% of women in the parliament today compared to our 14%. A short documentary film during the programme portrayed women in the highest positions of both the countries expressing their views and opinions of what inspired them to join politics and how proud they are to be one. They sent powerful messages to the women and girls to come out of the cocoon of kitchen to the decision-making table. It was indeed a bold step taken forward towards realizing the promising future of our women.
However, one thing I observed in the gathering was that men were outnumbered. Except for the media-men, there were only a handful of them taking part in the programme. Those men were either husbands or friends of the women involved in making the document, “La Aum Lyonchhen”. Women were rejoicing, saying, “We have outnumbered men”. “Today is our day.”
But instead of celebrating, I believed there was something to be worried. Men and women in the society are but like the two wings of a bird. If either of the wings is broken, we know that the bird cannot fly. We need both to soar high.
If the organizer had not invited men, then the programme was meant only for women. But how far women are going to remain in their own circles chit-chatting? Will educating women be any help to them when there is a strong jeopardizing force in the society from men? I am certain that educating men to share the homely responsibilities would do great in fostering women’s participation. This is because of the general observation made that women cannot balance home and office life which ultimately leads them to choose one, home.
A man may be a dumb and deaf in the society but at home he is the King. Great many decisions come from him. If we do not “remove” the stereotypical notion and stigma of men who think women should be in the kitchen cooking food, washing utensils and taking care of children at home, no change is expected to be seen. Men will continue to rule and women’s education will remain within her. Therefore, if Bhutan is to see more women participating in politics in the near future, it “must” persuade men and educate women. These are two simple remedies that would turn the society in the direction we want. The programmes must also be aimed at informing men and educating them of how equal gender representation could foster the proper rooting of our young democracy.
On the other hand, if men have not turned up despite invitation, it shows they are least bothered. Unless we make them believe that a woman can do what a man does, we will not be successful in our venture. I see no reason in celebrating for only women being present.
Another change we need is in some of the systems where women are treated not equal to men. Systems, if not updated are store houses of mistakes. We must clean them from time to time. Whenever I talk of gender equality, I remember my village’s incidence. In my village, if a woman comes to attend the meeting she is fined Nu 10. But if a man comes, however immature he may be, for instance a school going child, he is not fined but considered to be fit to sit for the meeting. Where is gender equality? In such a system, will women ever be able to “feel” equal to men?
It is therefore important to change the systems and persuade men to do away with their stereotypical thinking. They must give a new dawn of way to our women. If society is conducive, women will rise their own. Needs no quota and favoritism! It is only about small understandings that a husband and wife reach at home that brings drastic changes in the society. At home, the husband must be willing to share some of her homely chores, like cooking food and taking care of the child. A little change from men would do instead of trying to change a great thing in women.
If we are successful in changing the society’s outlook (especially men’s outlook), “La Aum Lyonchhen” can be a reality. But if we fail to alter the way we look at women, it may take decades before we could utter “La Aum Lyonpo”.