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Partnering with men and boys to end domestic violence : "fostering positive role model"

28 staffs from G4S and 28 athletes from Bhutan Olympic Committee attending the workshop held on 23rd- 24th July and 2nd- 3rd August, 2014.



Multi Sectoral Task Force (MSTF) and Community Based Support System (CBSS), Reaching Out Together, 2014

Reaching Out Together

Multi Sectoral Task Force (MSTF) and Community Based Support System (CBSS) are two grass root social networks in the country propounded under the aegis of Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck. MSTF was formally introduced in all 20 districts by 2001 under Ministry of Health supervision to prevent, raise awareness and carry out advocacy programs on HIV/AIDS and STIs throughout the country. Over the years, MSTF has expanded their services to other communicable and non-communicable disease such as TB, Malaria, Avain Influenza, teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion, cervical cancer, diabetes, hypertension and other mental health issues. In creating MSTF, Ministry of Health sought to integrate health system and health care programs with other governmental mandates.


RENEW on the other hand founded CBSS network in all 20 dzongkahgs in 2005 to curb the increasing numbers of incidences of violence and abuse against women and girls in the country.  CBSS volunteers engages enthusiastic community members to join hands with RENEW in raising awareness to reduce and prevent occurrences of Domestic and Gender Based Violence (DV/GBV) and Violence against Women (VAW) in their communities. CBSS acts as an immediate interface between communities and RENEW providing long term sustainable approach to curb VAW.


With more than a decade of MSTF and CBSS members conducting programs and activities in communities separately, Ministry of Health and RENEW concluded that it was time for the two networks to come together. On the wake of limited budgetary opportunities, dwindling resources and scarce capacity, the two parent organisations felt that there were several areas where the two networks could come together, thus saving resources and effort. Since MSTF and CBSS both worked closely in communities, many of their activities could be clubbed together to increase impact quotients. Several brainstorming sessions held in this regard lead to a need for a joint national level meeting of the two networks.


Thus, MSTF CBSS Partnership Meeting “Reaching out Together” was conceived to bring together the two Dzongkhag level networks to brainstorm, discuss and agree on a common collaborative work plan. HIV/AIDS not only remains an important public health priority, but also a major social issue. By expanding public health programs which for now has been covering only aspects of reproductive health issues, alcohol, substance abuse and pandemic outbreak to include direct social issues like DV and GBV will assist communities build better comprehensive consciousness. The understanding would also encourage a viable sustainability of both the networks.


With this in mind, from 9-11 June 2014, MSTF member secretaries and CBSS district coordinators from 19 districts gathered to attend a three day extensive meeting in Thimphu organized jointly by Ministry of Health and RENEW. Unfortunately, participants from Gasa were unable to attend the meeting due to road block. The target of the meeting was to i) Have in place better communication and coordination mechanism and ii) Make prudent and maximize the use of limited resources.


The inaugural session was graced by H.E. Lyonpo Damchoe Dorji, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs on 9 June 2014 morning. To the participants seated, Lyonpo said “The meeting gives us an opportunity to rethink and rededicate efforts to mitigate the epidemic of HIV/AIDS and other social evils”. Thereafter an intensive 3 day session began with a lot of interactions, free way discussions and learning by way of sharing experiences.


All in all, the meeting had three broad group exercises where participants exchanged healthy dialogue among themselves. Challenges, issues, best practices and recommendations were shared and the forum openly discussed solutions to address them. As the days progressed, more suggestions and recommendations for collaboration among the two networks surfaced. Finally on the third day, participants in district wise drafted joint action plans with proper strategy which included timeframe, budgeting and monitoring & evaluation. Due to clear and transparent understanding developed within participants in the first two days of the meeting, drafting individual action plans seamlessly took form on the third day. A conclusion was arrived that district level resources and capacity should be shared; observing global days and events would be done jointly; sensitization/awareness/educational campaign will be done jointly and henceforth both networks would collaborate on joint outreach programs.


Most of issues participants brought forth were common to all districts. Many expressed lack of proper strategy in place to monitor evaluation and impact. This could be solved to an extent by centralizing the authority to district administrator, in this case the Dzongdas. Another issue was of unclear roles and responsibilities of the members. The composition of the members of MSTF at Dzongkhag level includes civil servants of the respective Dzongkhags. Whereas in the case of CBSS, it is purely on voluntary basis, thus the composition is diverse. To solve this problem, an MSTF organogram was deliberated at length. To foster long term sustainability of the networks, it was proposed that concrete district action plans would be presented to the Commission of Secretaries for support and endorsement. By doing so, MSTF CBSS action plans can be embedded as part of district Five year plans, which is yearly monitored and evaluated. Many such issues brought forward were sorted out through communication and sharing responsibility.


Having fully achieved its objectives to bring the two networks together by sorting out differences a Way Forward report was compiled out of the three day proceedings. The Way Forward captures in essence all the communication, issues, grievances, exchanges and discussions transpired during the meeting. All participants endorsed the Way Forward and many looked forward for easier work flow in their districts. During the closing ceremony graced by Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, who is the patron for both networks launched the Way Forward, hence marking the propitious beginning of a new partnership. A summary presentation of the meeting was also presented by Dr. Dorji Wangchuk, Director General, Dept of Public Health, Ministry of Health to Her Majesty and other dignitaries present.

With this, the three day partnership meeting concluded on a high note. Not only did the participants formulate joint action plans, rather these action plans will go towards enhancing community outreach activities by supplementing district annual plans. All action plans looks promising and the implementers have been rejuvenated to do more for their districts, this time however together.

Shelter clients skilled with training on basic Tailoring Course

A three- month basic training course for RENEW’s Shelter clients in Gawailing Happy Home Center which began in December, 2013 successfully got completed on 17 March, 2014. 5 shelter clients and one student participated in the training; additional 2 trainees joined the team in February, 2014. Sadly, due to unavoidable circumstances, only 5 out of the 8 trainees completed the full extensive course. RENEW is hopeful that the trainees who dropped out, will be able join other such training RENEW conducts in future.

The training is part of RENEW’s Sustainable Livelihood wing that ensures victims and survivors of Domestic Violence and other abuses can begin lives that are economically and psycho-socially empowered. This is a “Creative Minds Busy Fingers” project initiative, funded by a Finnish Development Project (FIDA).

At the start of the training, it was extremely difficult of the trainees to learn and the trainer to teach, as most of them had infant babies to care for. However, despite all the challenges the 3 month course was successful. One client upon completion of the course has been employed in a tailoring shop in Trashigang. Four clients who are still at Gawailing Center received favorable feedback from Department of Youth & Sports (DYS), Ministry of Education to sow reusable fannel cloth sanitary pads for rural female students. RENEW’s committed Thimphu volunteers Deki Tshomo and Dolma were instrumental in introducing the girls to DYS.  The clients have already begun sowing the sanitary pads.

On completion of the training, all the clients learning the trade were awarded a certificate of completion on 17 March, 2014.


Opening windows of opportunities for women in Samtse

Upon RENEW’s Creative Minds Busy Fingers Project preliminary meetings with the women in villages in Samtse District, many came forward to express their desire to learn tailoring skills from the Organisation’s Livelihood wing. On further assessment, the visiting team saw an opportunity to empower the women earn additional incomes for themselves and their family by teaching them tailoring skills. When a woman is economically empowered, she has greater understanding of choices and is in a better position to protect herself from discrimination and abuse.  With this mandate, the project funded by a Finnish Development Project (FIDA), penetrates into the deep recesses of the country, empowering women with opportunities to earn income to supplement the already thin resources.

Among all the women the project team met, the women in Yoeseltse were the most forthcoming and enthusiastic to learn tailoring.  Thus, the Yoeseltse was the site chosen for the pilot project. Orders for sewing machines and required materials were placed. Within four weeks since the assessment trip, the project finally got together a trainer, Mr. Dorji Gyeltshen to train the women. Mr. Dorji has years of teaching tailoring in a commercial enterprise. All the purchases had to be made and transported from India itself, this took additional time. 11 women who came forward for the training were mostly beneficiaries of RENEW’s micro finance project. Being members of the MFP meant trainees upon completion of the training could avail loans and begin commercial ventures.

Sonakhar village, the site where the training would be conducted provided the project with free space for the training. The project had to only equip the community hall (Aumtsho tshogpa) with electrical furnishing and few minor maintenance works.  The training commenced from 9 April onwards and will continue till 5 July. The timings were adjustable depending on the preferences of the women trainees, 4-5 hours in a day.

This is the first such pilot project in the area.  The trainees learning the skill are hopeful many windows of opportunities will open for them and their family.

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