Bhutan Is Proof: Happy Women = Happy State

By Ritu Goyal Harish

Bhutan’s people smile easily. And it’s no wonder – their country is considered the happiest place in the world.

Perhaps one of the reasons is that women have equal rights and opportunities – in property, education, employment, and personal freedom. A frequent visitor shares snapshots from her visits.

Text and photos by Ritu Goyal Harish

Bhutan women 5

Angay (grandma in Bhutanese) and I in her daughter’s kitchen, warmed by a traditional bukhari (heater). She is 82, and has only one desire – to live longer.

Bhutan woman

This woman was on her way home after offering prayers at the Chime Lhakhang temple (known for its phallus symbol). I asked if her children looked after her. She beamed: “Yes. I am happy,” she said. It showed.


The elderly in Thimphu flock to the National Memorial Chorten to circumambulate the temple 108 times and offering prostrations. The administration has made it easier to prostrate by installing wooden boards.


Festivals are a big part of Bhutan’s religious and spiritual fabric, and include traditional dances. These village girls in Paro smile as they get into form during practice for an upcoming spring festival.


Every person in a Bhutanese household contributes towards its day-to-day running, even the elderly and visitors. Unperturbed by the growing urbanisation, they prefer to walk home, carrying groceries in their hands.

First published in the June 2018 issue of eShe magazine

Ritu Goyal Harish runs Ease India Travel and specialises in holidays to Bhutan, parts of Himachal, Coorg and Kerala