| Karma Yuden, Thimphu
The adage that women cannot work at par to the men is proven wrong by those 30 women, mostly mothers, who are working at the Drukgyel Dzong reconstruction site.
Despite confronting challenges of all sorts, these women come out of their homes every morning and perform arduous tasks of breaking stones to moving shovels and transporting aggregates and cements on their backs. At the end of the month, they get a meager amount for their strenuous jobs but they are happy to get something to sustain their lives.
Indra Kumari, 30, is one of them and she has been working there since last year. “My back aches excruciatingly when I get back home after the work but I do not get rest there. As a wife and a mother, I have another job waiting for me at home. It is a doubly burden for me but I have no other choices,” she said.
Her friend, Phool Maya, 21, also shared similar story. “I come from a humble background and owing to financial problem; I had to drop out from school. What job should I expect to get other than this? At least I get some money to keep the ovens warm in my kitchen,” she said.
Another woman, Aum Lhamo, 59, said that it is the most difficult job for any woman to work as a labourer.
“When we are at work, our supervisors hardly give us a benefit of being female, and they are right because we are paid equally. But it is very tough to work at the construction sites,” said Aum Lhamo.
She mentioned that she has to work for her three young children.
In a month, they earn anywhere between Nu 6,000 to Nu 12,000 depending upon the nature of their works.
Meanwhile, the re-construction of the dzong was to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness The Gyelsay. It is also to commemorate the 400th year of Zhabdrung Nagwang Namgyel’s arrival in Bhutan and the birth year of Guru Rinpochoe.
The Drukgyel Dzong was built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1964 at the behest of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate victory over an invasion from Tibet. The Dzong is a symbol of victory over a multitude of foreign and local enemies threatening the peace and sovereignty of the country.