Addressing Gender Equality through the Law

JSW Law is not like other colleges.  Two-thirds of the students are female and my class has three women for every man.  We do not adhere to stereotypical gender rules here.  Coming from an upbringing of strong and empowered women, I believe that both men and women are necessary to realize meaningful change in our world.  I came here in hopes that I could learn about law that is “uniquely Bhutanese” and help other people understand it. Here at JSW Law, I am learning much more than that. I am learning more about myself, learning to embrace not-knowing and learning the value of togetherness.As a woman and aspiring agenda of change in my country, this is my story.

I don’t think that I noticed that men and women were treated differently until I started middle school. My childhood days were spent collecting “Dragon Ball Z” cards, playing house with the neighborhood kids, pretending to be Power Rangers, attending tea parties with my toys, and watching as many WWE matches I could. The environment I was exposed to as a child was not one in which girls were treated differently than boys.

My family never let me lose my voice and myself. My mother, a strong and loving woman, taught me to value and protect myself.She was always there, as far as I can remember, to guide me through all my phases in life. My siblings always listened to my opinions, supported me, and picked me up when I fell. My fatheralways treated me the way he treated my brother, he taught us the same values, and he loved us the same. He has always been very accepting, and he was an avid feminist. He was a technical advisor at RENEW and the National Center for Women & Children, both organisations that help women; he also worked closely with the Woman and Child Protection Division of the Royal Bhutan Police. Growing up in an environment of love and equality, I was never infused with any sense of inferiority on account of my gender.

I know that women are sometimes viewed as a “minority,” but that has never been my experience.  I come from a household where women are in the majority.  My circle of close friends consists of seven women and two men. My high school class had two girls for every boy. So it comes as no shock to me that, here at JSW Law, two-thirds of the students are female and my graduating class is has three women for every man.

And what a two-thirds it is!  A medley of loud and mischievous, quiet and understanding, mature and immature, of diverse and unique characters. We motivate and take care of one another, we help each other out, and we respect each other.We sit in each other’s rooms on each other’s beds and discuss our assignments. We share food, stories, and clothes,all in a dormitory where our adventures happen. We always make sure to give each other a little “push” when required and we let each other catch up on rest after sleepless nights.

One of the best parts about JSW Law is that we don’t really expect stereotypical gender roles to be carried out. We girls move our own wardrobes, carry rocks, and push carts and we’re able to do that together. Not surprisingly, the boys here plant flowers and clean.

One of the main reasons I wanted to study at JSW Law was that I believed it will nurture not only my academic growth but also my humane instincts.  In my future career, I would like to help address inequality in my society.   Honestly, I believe that both men and women are necessary to achieve change in the world. If our efforts are limited to women advocating on behalf of women’s rights, I don’t think we can realize meaningful change.Men must also commit to change, and women must welcome the positive efforts of men. That being said, a woman can help lift other women. A woman can stand up for herself and others. A woman can value herself and the world around her.

Bhutan is still young and there are many parts of our country that still hold dear the traditional views and the roles passed down to us as women.But I have always lived in my own universe of equality and endless possibilities,one which, following my education, I hope to  share with the world.

 

Lekzang Pakila Lhaki

JSW Law Class of 2024