Angay Dawa

“I’m 82 years old from Pazhi Laya. I came to Punakha in December. This is where layaps spend their winter months but nowadays many people stay back home. Only horse owners travel south to graze their horses. I’ll return home by March-end with groceries and ration. Rich people in Laya used solar panels for lighting back in the day, but we now have electricity, water, and roads. We’ve been receiving this help from His Majesty for about 5 years now.

When I was a girl, I’d walk for 2 days with around 40 yaks in search of pastureland. We have two residences within laya, one a temporary camp for Yak grazing periods and another made with mud and stones for living. The yaks, my cousin, and I would camp in the mountains for months and come back home for a few days before returning. I met my husband on one such trip. I was 18.

Menstrual hygiene was one big challenge I’d face in a temporary camp. We hadn’t seen or heard of pads back then. We wore long shirts inside our dress without any panties. We didn’t have soap to wash our clothes so we’d beat the clothes with our feet and use dried sticks and stones in the river. But menstrual problems extended beyond personal issues. I had to sleep alone until it was over and couldn’t enter the altar room or make any offerings.

I miscarried thrice and gave birth 6 times. When miscarrying, I’d put my head to the ground and try to press the blood clotting out. I’d then rest for a while. It was a struggle but drinking milk, eating meat, and eating melted butter is considered effective medicine and always helped alleviate the pain. Plus, we could never stop working – even when we were menstruating or miscarrying. We’d give birth many times because we didn’t have hospitals, family planning, or access to contraceptives. I had my menopause in my 50s.

Women no longer have to struggle as we did. We have shops in the village that sell pads, and some buy them on their way back from hot places. Many women’s struggles have been greatly eased as a result of modernization, particularly in terms of menstrual hygiene and healthcare for all.”

Humans of Thimphu with RENEW celebrates the women who are heroes of their own stories and women who face difficult trials and tribulations in life. #SheDecides and no one can stop her!

Happy International Women’s Day! #BreakTheBias

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