Sports for Women’s Empowerment | Kuensel online

The Bhutanese Chess Player Teams are heading home today having exceeded our expectations. We must applaud and cherish their achievements, especially that of the women’s team.

This is yet another big step towards empowering women. This victory will lead to another.

Every time someone kicks a ball or shoots an arrow, it not only demonstrates their physical strength, but also their leadership and strategic thinking, bringing them closer to gender equality.

It has been recognized worldwide that sport can be a force to amplify women’s voices and break down gender barriers and discrimination in its various forms. Women in sport challenge the misperception that they are weak or incapable. There is ample evidence that participation in sports can help break down gender stereotypes, improve the self-esteem of girls and women, and contribute to the development of leadership skills.

Our girls and women are far more visible in sport today than at any time in history. Archer Karma, cricketer Anju Gurung, shooter Lenchu ​​Kunzang and Paralympian Sapuna Subba have come out on top and excelled in their disciplines in recent years. This is not to say that women and girls do not face challenges in accessing sport as athletes and spectators, inequalities in professional sport, media coverage and sports media, among others.

Over the years, our grassroots sports programs have gone beyond the urban areas into the dzongkhags. We cannot be satisfied until every gewog or community school has quality sports facilities and qualified instructors.

Ensuring the safety of girls and women in our sports facilities and preventing sexual abuse or harassment is a major task ahead. If we are unable to address it early on, it will recur like a cancer and kill many budding talents before they can fulfill their potential or force promising athletes to quit prematurely. A nation can lose a jewel because of the folly of a few insensitive ones.

Completion of girls sports academy in Gelephu can attract many talents and prepare them in time. There are already a growing number of women certified to officiate as referees and coaches.

In other parts of the world, women and girls have to fight for their right to play sport. The advantage in Bhutan is that our women and daughters don’t have half the problems other women have elsewhere. This in itself is an important step and a springboard for more investment and attention.

Mara R. Wilmoth