Aurbay Sher Shong Payzothkhang Community Library & Resource Center
Born out of a successful partnership between READ Bhutan, the Loden Foundation, and Ura village, this vibrant community center provides services in ICT training, women’s empowerment, early childhood development, and livelihoods. The center’s “Women Represent” project won a Libraries for Development Award at the Beyond Access 2012 Conference. Women still have little public representation in Bhutan. This project works to encourage public participation among women and girls and also involves the community in discussion about women’s roles to raise awareness about the contributions women can — and must — make in the public sphere.
The Loden Foundation
Founded in 1998, the Loden Foundation is Bhutan’s first registered charity. It promotes learning, education, and entrepreneurship among children and young adults. In 2006 the foundation established its first early learning centers and in 2007 they initiated an entrepreneurship program to help address the rising unemployment in Bhutan by giving young Bhutanese the skills they need to create their own businesses. The foundation also focuses on literacy and improving access to information on higher education and vocational training in order to improve the livelihoods of Bhutan’s young people.
Gross National Happiness Commission
Bhutan was essentially closed off from the world until the 1960s. The ideas behind Gross National Happiness (GNH) were formulated in the 1970s as Bhutan was in the early stages of opening up. GNH is based on four pillars: sustainable and equitable economic development, the preservation and promotion of culture, environmental conservation, and good governance. These ideas have now become the driving force behind development in Bhutan. The Gross National Happiness Commission is responsible for ensuring that Gross National Happiness is incorporated into all national plans and policies.