Registering CSOs

Commenting on my last post, several readers reiterated that the Tarayana Foundation is doing some wonderful work. I agree.

But did you know that Tarayana Foundation, established seven years ago, is not a registered CSO? Similarly, the Youth Development Fund, established 11 years ago, and RSPN, established 24 years ago, are not registered CSOs.

We know that Tarayana, YDF and RSPN are doing a good job alleviating rural poverty, developing our youth and protecting our natural heritage respectively. They’ve proven it. We also know that many other NGOs have made significant contributions to the development of our country and people.

So I was surprised to read that the CSO Authority has awarded the CSO status to only four organizations: RENEW, Loden Foundation, Centre for Media and Democracy and Bhutanese Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE).

RENEW is doing a lot of good work empowering our women. So it’s good to see that they’ve been recognized as a registered CSO. And though the Loden Foundation is relatively new, they’ve been quite active.

The Centre for Media and Democracy, established two years ago, sounds promising. And they’ve already conducted several seminars and workshops. Still, I’m not sure how they would qualify for official registration if the likes of Tarayana, YDF and RSPN are left out.

And then there’s BAOWE. They’re also a registered CSO. But who is BAOWE? When were they established? And what have they done to merit recognition ahead of Tarayana, YDF and RSPN.

Sustaining happiness

I’m in Phuentsholing, on my way back from a special trip to my constituency. I went there to receive Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, who visited Sombaykha and Gakiling in my constituency, and then to accompany the royal entourage to Dumtoe and Dorokha in Samtse.

Her Majesty trekked for eight straight days, from the freezing Tergo-la in Haa to the hot and humid Yaba-la in Samtse. She undertook this arduous journey – trudging in the cold winds and snow, in the rain among leeches, and in the sun in sweltering heat – to meet the people living in the remotest parts of Haa and Samtse. And Her Majesty met them in their villages and in their homes to tell them about reproductive health, to advocate family planning, and to warn them of the dangers of HIV/AIDS, drugs and excessive alcohol.

Pictured is Her Majesty in Rangtse enjoying a happy moment with the people of Gakiling. There, I was suddenly struck by the realization that Her Majesty’s journey to my constituency, and those through the length and breath of our country, was not just about reproductive health or HIV/AIDS; it was ultimately a campaign to ensure that the happiness of our people is sustainable.

I return to Thimphu today.

Celebrating women

Today the world celebrates the achievements of women. Today is International Women’s Day.

When I last checked, the IWD website had registered that 841 events would take place in 54 countries to observe International Women’s Day. And according to a press release from RENEW, Bhutan alone will hold five events – in Paro, Phuentsoling, Sarpang, Thimphu and Trongsa.

Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the founding president of RENEW, will grace the celebrations in Trongsa and address the nation. This is fortunate. Her Majesty works tirelessly to raise awareness and improve the conditions of our women. And to create social, economical and political opportunities for them.

So let’s listen carefully when Her Majesty announces this year’s IWD theme: “Women and men united to end violence against women and girls”

Let’s obey Her Majesty’s appeal to “Say No to Violence against Women: it is not in our culture!”

Let’s acknowledge Her Majesty’s constant reminder on RENEW’s website that “Home is a place for love and happiness, not for violence”

And let’s honour Her Majesty by celebrating our women – not just today, but tomorrow and everyday.

Her Majesty’s portrait from RENEW website