International Day of the Girl Child and Launching of the Woman and Child Helpline(1098)


The National Commission for Women and Children in collaboration with UNICEF and Save the Children join the global community in observing the International Day of the Girl Child with this year’s theme “With Her: A Skilled GirlForce”.

Globally, women and girls still face a lot of challenges such as lack of access to education, employment opportunities, health and sanitation, child marriage and gender-based violence. More than 750 million women and girls around the world have been married before their eighteenth birthday and more than 16 million girls between the ages of 15 to 19 give birth every year. Child marriage and teenage pregnancy often denies girls basic education and an opportunity to pursue a career. 

Girls of this generation are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation. Educated and skilled workers are in great demand, but roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed or in education or training. It is estimated that for girls who do join the workforce in the near future, 90 percent of them (working in developing countries) will join informal sectors with little to no pay and suffer from exploitation and abuse at their workplace.

In Bhutan as well, despite all endeavours to end all discrimination towards girls, teenage pregnancies, poverty and poor sanitation facilities in schools hinder girls in Bhutan from pursuing their education which also impedes them from gaining the necessary skills to join the workforce. As per the Population & Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) 2017, while the country’s labour force participation rate was 63.3%, the labour force participation rate for female was 52.2% and 73.1% for male. In all the age groups, the labour force participation rate for female was lower than that of male.. The youth (persons 15-24 years of age) unemployment rate was 10.6% with female youth unemployment rate at 12.9%, which is higher than that of males at 9.2%.                                             

This year’s theme, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce aims to not only raise awareness of the fact that millions of girls around the world have the potential but not the opportunity to work on the same skilled jobs as boys. We must advocate for investment in girls so they can gain skills necessary for employment.

Girls’ full participation in the future workforce will require tackling gender stereotypes and harmful social norms across professions, and addressing the many systemic barriers to decent work they face, including child marriage, early motherhood and gender-based violence. To respond and to prevent such issues, the National Commission for Women and Children has been closely working in collaboration with partners and stakeholders such as Government agencies, non-government agencies and development partners to promote and protect the rights of women, girls and boys through the policy framework and comprehensive programmes.


About the Event:

To observe the International Day of the Girl Child, Hon’ble Dasho Kinley Yangzom, Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission and Interim Government Advisor of the Ministry of Health will grace the occasion as the Chief Guest and will also launch the Woman and Child Helpline and other advocacy materials.  

The Woman and Child Helpline (1098) is a national 24/7 free phone service to women and children in need of care and protection. It will be accessible to any child or adult on his/her behalf from any place at any given time. A team of trained operators will be on call 24/7 to respond to any contact made by providing counselling and referral services, and legal information. The services provided will go beyond the provision of telephonic counseling, extending to emergency assistance and provision of long-term care and protection including referral services for rehabilitation, repatriation and reintegration into their communities. This would include provision of psycho-social services, while living in residential care and thereafter in the care of the children’s families. The Helpline is linked with the Central Management Information Services (CMIS) which is a central database for information on women and children in difficult circumstances and an online case management system where all relevant service providers collaborate to provide the services needed.

The Woman and Child helpline also has the provision to link up with the other regional helplines in the future. During the SAIEVAC meeting in 2016 held in New Delhi,India, SAARC nations agreed on setting up a uniform child helpline in the region. The nations also reiterated their efforts to use the common toll free number 1098 in the region. The aim of using this number in the SAARC member states is to ensure that children are able to access support required in any of the eight countries, which would then link with the helpline in the country of origin of the child. 

Issued by:

National Commission for Women and Children

Royal Government of Bhutan


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