ADB, Japan Support Economic Opportunities for Women in Bhutan

News Release | 21 February 2011

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Japan are providing assistance of $1.95 million to Bhutan to support increased economic opportunities for women.

The grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, administered by ADB, will strengthen the gender mainstreaming and monitoring capacity of the National Commission for Women and Children and other government agencies responsible for women's economic empowerment. Another key element of the project will be assistance for trade apprenticeships and skills training for women in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources. Funds will also be used to help partner nongovernment organizations involved in promoting economic opportunities for women and micro enterprises.

"The project will improve the capacity of government agencies and civil society to address gender disparities, while helping increase livelihood opportunities for vulnerable women and girls in selected urban and rural areas," said Francesco Tornieri, Senior Social Development Specialist in ADB's South Asia Department.

Bhutan has a strong gender equality ethos but some disparities still exist, with female participation in the labor force under 42% in urban areas, compared to nearly 77% for men. In addition, illiteracy among rural women remains high. To address the gaps, the Royal Government of Bhutan has established a National Plan of Action on Gender to make gender mainstreaming and advocacy an integral part of its programs.

Project performance targets include the completion of 12-month apprenticeships in various trades for around 600 youths, with an 80% target for women, and the completion of trade skills training by up to 360 rural youths, 50% of them women. It also aims to help up to 1,200 individuals - the bulk of them women - to engage in microenterprises and other livelihood activities.

Along with the ADB-administered grant, the Government of Bhutan will provide in-kind support of more than $548,000, with beneficiary communities supplying $56,000, for a total investment cost of almost $2.6 million. The National Commission for Women and Children is the executing agency for the project which will run for three years.