At the Beyond Access 2012 Conference, each Beyond Access Member team developed a project idea to compete for a Libraries for Development grant in one of four categories: Civic Participation, Economic Opportunity, Community Information and Development, and Public Technology and Innovation. A panel of experts selected the Aurbay Sher Shong Payzothkhang (ASSP) Library’s project in the Civic Participation category.
In October 2012, ASSP Library and READ Bhutan’s Women Represent: Boosting Women’s Representation in Public Sphere project idea was selected as the best entry in Civic Participation award category during the Beyond Access Conference in Washington DC. This project will be beneficial to Bhutan, as there is a lack of women’s representation in local and national politics, as well as in other public spheres. The trend is due mostly to traditional norms and lack of access to information. The Women Represent: Boosting Women’s Representation in the Public Sphere project aims to strengthen the participation of girls and women by creating a supportive environment for them to do so. The project will conduct empowerment activities through media advocacy, seminars and workshops that will boost their participation, as well as increase their self-efficacy and skills to render a greater understanding of “how” and “what” of civic participation. This project will be initially piloted in Ura community, and will gradually cover the four other READ communities in Thimphu, Punakha, Chuazang and Rongthong.
ASSP and READ Bhutan plan to partner with Bhutan Center for Media and Democracy (BCMD), Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), Parliamentary Committee for Women Empowerment, Department of Local Government, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and KCD Productions in order to implement this project. Stay tuned for more updates as the project kicks off.