[Excerpt] The Bhutan Gender Equality Diagnostic of Selected Sectors, which was produced through a partnership of the United Nations (UN) in Bhutan with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), is the first document to focus in this manner on gender equality and women’s position in Bhutan. It looks at eight priority sectors identified by ADB and UN Bhutan in close consultation with NCWC and highlights issues and opportunities to be considered when taking gender mainstreaming forward in each sector.
Bhutan has made great strides in creating a favorable legal and policy environment to address social relations of gender. However, the Gender Equality Diagnostic shows that there are gender gaps in areas such as education, employment, and representation in decision making and that gender-based violence is a problem in both rural and urban areas. Experience elsewhere shows that political will is required to translate words and intentions into effective action and results. Another critical ingredient is adequate resources—both financial and technical—to support the implementation of gender-sensitive laws and policies. The national budget reflects a government’s social and economic plans and priorities, and has the advantage of clearly showing the programs and initiatives that are supported with resources. Gender-responsive budgeting, therefore, can be a powerful instrument for translating political commitment into concrete action.
For this reason, the UN System in Bhutan—in partnership with the Department of National Budgets/Ministry of Finance, NCWC, Gross National Happiness Commission, Department of Local Governance, and civil society groups—has introduced gender-responsive planning and budgeting as a means to support the implementation of the gender equality agenda as laid out in the government’s Eleventh Five-Year Plan. Gender-responsive planning and budgeting will enable a focus on issues that have often been overlooked, including the unpaid care economy that absorbs much of women’s time in tasks such as caring for children and dependent elderly or responding to community needs.