August  2007




Volume 1 Issue 1

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 HM Queen Sangay
 Choden Wangchuck

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Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck

            Looking for 100% success


"To be informed is to be empowered."

This article is based on an exclusive interview granted by Her Majesty to the Editor of the-south-asian Life & Times.

The importance and relevance of monarchy may have declined the world over, but there still remains one geographically small but ideologically and philosophically a giant nation where the monarch has reached out to his people at the grass root level and made Happiness and Contentment of the people the primary goal of his development policy. His Highness Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th Druk Gyalpo, made Gross National Happiness (GNH), rather than Gross National Product, the ultimate goal for the people of Bhutan.

Bhutan is perhaps the only nation in the world, where the people share an unprecedented closeness with the royal family – a love that comes close to bonding – and not without a reason. The King is not alone in his efforts towards GNH.

Her Majesty Queen Sangay Choden Wangchuck, youngest of the fours sisters whom the King married in a single ceremony, has promoted social causes not as a matter of duty but with great personal zeal and compassion. Since her appointment as UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador in 1999, she has travelled extensively to all twenty districts of Bhutan in an effort to promote reproductive and female health and raise awareness also on education and women related issues. "People are hungry for information and yearning to learn," she said. "To be informed, I think, is to be empowered."

Her appointment as UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 took her travelling to the interior and remote corners of all twenty districts of Bhutan, where there were many issues to be addressed in the areas of reproductive and female health – especially in schools. Trekking to hamlets with no roads, at times for two weeks and at times riding horseback, Her Majesty carried her mission to all twenty districts of Bhutan. During these trips she talked to adolescents, school girls, village women, and wives of military personnel in military cantonments about adolescent health, HIV/AIDS prevention, general measure to improve sanitation and hygiene.

Her Majesty’s extensive travels raised awareness on family planning and HIV. She met with and talked to people from all walks of life, and visited their homes. As she explained, "You have to reach out to people. They cannot come to you."

In a culture steeped in reticence and politeness, children were often extremely shy to discuss many issues especially those related to their sexuality. Their first target group therefore was children thirteen years and older. The campaign began in schools at Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, where her team distributed booklets on reproductive health and HIV. Thimphu was only the beginning. A step at a time, the campaign diffused into other districts.




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