More than 50 delegates from 15 countries gathered in Thimphu for the inaugural Women4Impact, an event to empower women in the pursuit of peace, democracy, sustainability and equality.
The event was a result of a combined effort of Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, president of JSW School of Law, Ambassador MelanneVerveer, executive director, Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and the first United States Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, and social enterprise, Impact Traveller.
Impact Traveller founder and chief executive officer, Sam McGoun, said: “We selected Bhutan for the inaugural Women4Impact event because of the country’s enlightened and selfless leadership, its sustainable development model, and its commitment to measuring prosperity in terms of enduring happiness for all. By gathering here, I hope we can learn from Bhutan – a small country that is bringing big ideas into the world at a time when we need it most.”
The four-day event included knowledge-sharing sessions focused on leadership, Gross National Happiness (GNH), and equitable socio-economic development. The programme also features opportunities for international business leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists to connect with local communities in Bhutan, and immerse themselves in the Kingdom’s dramatic natural surrounds.
HRH Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck graced the opening ceremony sharing insights on how Bhutan’s young democracy is making great strides towards gender equality.
Ambassador Verveer said: “This is the only country in the world where the GNH undergirds development philosophy – and part of that is recognising the critical role women play in development.”
“Today there is greater recognition that women’s empowerment is absolutely central to any effort to solve the world’s most pressing challenges – because no country can get ahead if half of its people are left behind.”
Women4Impact has also committed to fund scholarships for Bhutanese girls to attend JSW Law’s five-year programme as well as raise valuable funds to support GIWPS research for women.
A student of JSW Law Class of 2022, Sonam Yangchen spoke about the role of good governance in promoting gender equality. Another student, Tashi Norbu highlighted the importance of leadership.
“We don’t just stumble upon happiness, we follow our leaders’ positive example,” he said. Yeshey Dema, JSW Law Class of 2023, talked about the importance of driglam namgzhag, the nation’s centuries-old code of etiquette and conduct, in creating a civil society.