Women rising: a force for change in Nepal

Sally Airey | Aug 03, 2017
These women run a vegetable farm set up by our partner in Nepal
We have been working in Nepal for almost a decade, supporting our women’s rights partners as they respond to a rapidly changing environment for women.

In 2017, it’s no different. Two years on from one of the worst earthquakes the country has seen, and with a recent general election, the women’s movement in Nepal is working harder than ever to ensure the rights of all women are respected and realised.

As a woman in Nepal, you not only face violence and discrimination because you are a woman, but because you’re young, old, single, widowed, political, so-called “untouchable”, or any combination of factors that means you live with inequality and fear.

But now more than ever before, women across the mountains and plains of Nepal are making a stand against discrimination. They are coming together, united as a force for change.

Standing against stigma

Women from the Dalit community are standing against the stigma they face for their “untouchability” and caste status. They are at greater risk of sexual abuse, violence, human trafficking, dropping out of school and early child marriage, with 60% of Dalit girls getting married before they are 16.

Womankind’s partner Feminist Dalit Organization has established over 2,100 Dalit women’s groups across Nepal. Given a chance to come together, to talk, to learn, to start earning, there is no stopping these women. They are determined their daughters will get the education and rights that they were denied.

Like Dalit women, single and widowed women face daily discrimination and abuse. Our partner, Women for Human Rights (WHR) Nepal, works worked tirelessly to ensure the voices of single women are heard.

After her house collapsed in the earthquake, Jamina and her 9-month-old daughter were left with nowhere to live. In addition to receiving emergency support from WHR, Jamina and 5 other women were helped to set up a poultry farm which now provides them with an income. “Now, I feel that if we need or want anything, we can do it. We can build a better future for our children. We know our rights and we are helping other women to see they can be their own keepers.”

Campaigning for women's economic rights

Our partner, Saathi, campaigns for an end to violence and runs shelters for women and girls. In recent years, especially since the earthquake, Saathi also been supporting women’s economic empowerment and campaigns for economic rights for all women.

Nisha Sapkota, aged 24, is a member of a Saathi savings group in a village that was flattened by the earthquake. Since being a part of the group, Nisha has grown in confidence and has taken control over her business. “Before finding Saathi, I was making bangles. It was a lot of hard work, my income was low and there were many middlemen so I kept losing money. They gave me so much trouble and paid me less than I should have been paid. Saathi provided me with a lot of training and support and I found my voice. I have cut out the middle person and I can stand up for my rights and demand fair pay.”

Women are rising

As the women’s movement in Nepal rises up against discrimination and violence, we are standing in solidarity with the activists and organisations that drive it more than ever before. Working with our existing partners, and through a series of exciting new partnerships, supporting new ways to strengthen the women’s movement so that more women can transform their lives.

“If we stand together, we can raise our voices loudly and become one strong voice that is listened to” - Rajkumasi Lohoa, aged 58, from Titiriya, President of Titiriya Dalit Women’s Group.

Find out how you can support our work in Nepal.

This article appeared in our Summer 2017 newsletter. You can download it here to read more updates from our partners.

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