TWA President speaks on gender equality and women’s empowerment

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Dharamshala : The main aim of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) was of a political nature and involved fighting for what was theirs: Tibet. However, as the years went by, “we realized that this was very difficult but at the same time we had to see that Tibetan’s in exile had access to education and other facilities,”said Dolma Yangchen, President of the TWA.
“First of all, we need to keep our identity alive, for that we have to preserve and promote our culture, religion, language. It is not possible for the government alone to handle all these things so our women’s association felt they had a duty to get involved in social service wherever it was necessary,” she added.

Dolma further elaborated on the environmental situation, “the Chinese are destroying the Eco-system in Tibet. The life of the nomads has completely changed because they are not allowed to live their lives as accustomed to, they have shifted from their familiar grasslands to the towns.” She stressed on the importance of preserving the Eco-system and advocating the problems in Tibet.

“We advocate these situations to the world. We cannot go personally, neither can we send them money. The only thing is that we try to reach these people by seeking help through the people of the world, the United Nations, EU.” she mentioned.

On enquiring about the status of gender equality in the Tibetan community and the biggest difficulty faced by Tibetan women today, the TWA President spoke of issues faced by women worldwide on the family front. The concern seemed to be notions held about the working mother. “In some ways we are equal, in many ways, we are equal because right from education onwards, there isn’t any difference made by neither the parents nor the government. Girls can go study as much as they like, just like the boys.”

However, the main difference lies when girls are required to think twice between starting a family and being a working woman. “So, if you get married early, you’ll have a family and so being a working woman, you’ll have to think a lot because you’ll have to take care of your family as well as you have to see that your work is done properly in the office. If your husband is cooperative, then he may share work at home, otherwise, a woman has to face a lot of hardships.”

Dolma went on to explain this internal conflict as the reason behind declining birth rates. Younger couples having less children is detrimental for the Tibetans as “there are fewer of us to begin with”. Out of the 1.2 in existence, several have been killed by the Chinese and 150 have self-immolated. “If the younger generation does not produce children, then the Tibetan population will suffer a lot. But at the same time, we cannot force anybody to have more children, we are only trying to encourage them by supporting them financially.”

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