Rebuilding Nepal

Rosey Ellum | Dec 12, 2015
When the devastating earthquakes hit Nepal earlier this year, over 9,000 people died. And when disaster strikes the effects are never gender neutral.

Unfortunately, we’re hearing from our partners that the situation for women and girls has become even more dangerous. Women who were made homeless now live in temporary camps, where they are vulnerable to attacks. Women who rented rooms or lived with their in-laws cannot get compensation for their lost property. And shockingly, some families that have lost everything have resorted to selling their daughters to traffickers.

Discrimination deepens

The earthquakes have further worsened the situation for single women in Nepal, many of whom were already discriminated against.

Muna was 15 years old when she was married. Just nine months later her husband died and weeks later she found out she was pregnant. At sixteen, Muna gave birth alone.

“I was extremely depressed, I would cry every day. Several times I went to the banks of the river with the intention to commit suicide”

When Womankind’s partner Women for Human Rights (WHR) heard about Muna, they visited her weekly and invited her to join their Single Women’s Group. With WHR’s help, Muna received psychological and medical support. Slowly she began recovering and started to enjoy life with her child.

Through WHR Muna met other women in her situation. She attended a tailoring course, and consequently started training other women.

But when the deadly earthquake hit Nepal, Muna’s house collapsed. She and her child were excluded from the reconstruction efforts because they lived alone.

After securing temporary shelter, Muna began supporting the earthquake relief efforts through WHR. Even now, six months after the earthquake, Muna spends much of her time visiting remote communities or distributing materials to women who come to WHR’s office.

“We have been distributing relief materials such as food, tin sheets for temporary shelter, mats, pots and pans to single and elderly women. We want to make sure the relief efforts reach the most marginalised women too”.

“Thanks to WHR my confidence has increased and I now feel happier. I understand that I am not alone, and I can now help other single women like myself. WHR gave me the hope to move on”.

A lifeline for women

Our three partners in Nepal are a lifeline to women affected by the earthquakes. Our partner Saathi is not only providing temporary shelter, food and sanitary products, but they are also helping women long term by campaigning for laws to change, providing legal advice and supporting women to live independently. WHR is giving women who have been made homeless money for rent, furniture and appliances. And they’re providing medical treatment and counselling, as well as making people aware of sexual violence and trafficking so they can prevent them from happening.

Feminist Dalit Organisation is bringing women affected by the earthquake together to form savings clubs and provide emotional support. Earning their own money gives women independence; which makes it much easier if they need to leave an abusive household. And coming together to form a women’s movement will ensure that the voices of Dalit women, who are severely marginalised, are finally heard.

With the bitter winter months approaching and now that women have become even more vulnerable, it’s vital that women like Muna are safe and warm and don’t experience additional violence and discrimination.

To support our partners in Nepal and elsewhere in the world to end violence and discrimination please give today.

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