Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, Queen Mother of Bhutan.
Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck was born on the 11th of May 1963 in the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. Her Majesty is youngest of the four queens of Bhutan’s most celebrated monarch His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Her Majesty has been actively involved in promoting the country’s rich cultural heritage and supports various social causes in Bhutan. She is compassionate about the welfare of women, youth and children and has been recognized as an advocate for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases both nationally and internationally.
In the year 1999, Her Majesty graciously accepted the role of the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador in Bhutan. In the same year she received the national honors of the “Commemorative Silver Jubilee Medal of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck”. In 2008 Her Majesty was awarded the “His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Investiture Medal”.
As the UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Her Majesty is a pioneer in creating awareness for reproductive, sexual and mental health in Bhutan. Through her personal interventions she has been able to create a platform for discussions and interactions with various stakeholders across Bhutan advocating better living conditions for the vulnerable groups in Bhutanese society.
Her Majesty launches the ‘state of World population’ at the World population day.
Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck’s inherent compassion towards the welfare of women, youth and children of Bhutan has been deepened by her extensive interactions with all segments of the Bhutanese population, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized. Her Majesty has travelled throughout the country, to the remotest districts, which are still inaccessible by roads even today.
To realize this noble vision for enriching the lives of those less fortunate individuals, Her Majesty the Gyalyum established The Gyalyum Charitable Trust on 12th January 2016. The Trust is the umbrella organization that works to ensure the long-term sustainability of the charitable organizations so that the indispensable services provided by them continue to benefit all sections of society.
The objectives of the organization is to foster cooperation between RENEW- Respect, Nurture, Educate and Empower Women (renew.org.bt), The Royal Textile Academy (www.royaltextileacademy.org) and the Chapters which include The Craft Gallery, The Gyalyum Scholarship Fund and The Dharma Initiative in pursuance of their aims, objectives and plans. Furthermore, the Gyalyum Charitable Trust is mandated to identify and seek funding sources to benefit and provide the sustenance for the organizations that fall under the aegis of the Trust.
In order to support and empower the disadvantaged and marginalized women in Bhutan, Her Majesty established RENEW an acronym for Respect, Educate Nurture and Empower Women. RENEW was conceptualized in the year 2000 and officially established in the year 2004 and is dedicated to empower vulnerable women, especially the victims and survivors of domestic violence so that they can emerge as socially and economically independent members of their communities.
Her Majesty receives the National Order of Merit (First Class) for RENEW and the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan from His Majesty the King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Accompanied by HRH Princes Eeuphelma Choden Wangchuck (right).
With the aim to preserve and promote weaving heritage of Bhutan, the Royal Textile Academy was instituted in May 2005. As a non-government, non-profit organization under the Royal patronage of Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, it is established as an educational center to preserve and conserve all forms of Bhutanese textile traditions. The Textile Museum located in the RTA premises is committed to furthering the understanding of Bhutan’s achievements in the Textile arts. It is the national center to collect, document, preserve, interpret and display Bhutan’s textile heritage and is dedicated to fostering and promoting the living textile arts.
Her Majesty believes in the power of education and recognizes the importance that empowerment through education of marginalized sections of society are essential for the overall socio- economic developmental process. The Gyalyum Scholarship Fund, a chapter that operates under the auspices of the Gyalyum Charitable Trust, was initiated in 2003 with the ancillary technical support from the Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education. Today, the programme provides support to over 500 children in national and international schools and universities.
Her Majesty is deeply spiritual and actively supports Dharma activities. Through the Dharma Initiative Her Majesty supports the restoration of old monasteries, provision of support to monasteries for their upkeep and maintenance, education and provides sustenance allowances to monks and nuns.
Her Majesty also established the Tara Lhadron Zhingkham Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the 21 Taras located in the historically and spiritually significant temple grounds of Parigzampa Astrology School in Dechhencholing, Thimphu.
The Craft Gallery was established as a chapter under the Gyalyum Charitable Trust. Modeled as a showroom and sales outlet, it aims to promote the marketing and development of all forms of Bhutanese handicrafts. The Craft Gallery promotes local artisans and encourages product development to adapt the age-old traditional crafts to contemporary tastes.
In recognition of her work, Her Majesty was conferred by His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck the National Order of Merit (1st Class) on December 17th, 2016 for RENEW and the Royal Textile Academy. The highest honor awarded to a Civil Society Organization for distinguished and meritorious service to the State.
Her Majesty the Gyalyum ‘s selfless dedication and her efforts to improve the welfare of disadvantaged and marginalized have been recognized at the highest levels. Her Majesty continues to uplift the lives of Bhutanese by supporting their endeavors and helping create new opportunities.