At first I didn’t feel able to, but now I can, and I put my views forward.

Women from the Dalit caste in Nepal face huge discrimination on every level and are treated as outcasts in society. They are made even more vulnerable by their lack of access to money, housing and land. 

We met Sharada, a woman from the poorest Dalit community. She gets support from our partner Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) to understand and fight for Dalit women’s rights. 

Sharada - FEDO“I was promised in marriage by my parents at 14 years old and moved to my husband’s house at the age of 18. I went to college but found it difficult to juggle that with household work. I was also not allowed outside by my husband’s family.
 
I have always felt, ‘I am a girl, but I can do something’. I heard about a woman leader in the community and I wanted to be like her. Eventually I joined FEDO in 2013. They help Dalit women fight for their rights. They helped me with my education and I got support and training to understand my rights and to mobilise and train others. 
 
I feel women in my community don’t know their rights and are very vulnerable. Many don’t even know the Nepali language so how can they know how to divorce and demand rights and citizenship. I didn’t have a birth certificate or citizenship as my parents in law didn’t want me to. This meant I couldn’t get property. But thanks to FEDO, who helped me talk to my family, this has changed, and I now have my citizenship.
 
My husband is happy and supportive about my work with FEDO, but his parents question my involvement because they believe you will always be lower than your husband and you can’t be too smart.
 
Every month I go to the FEDO group. We discuss child marriage, polygamy, citizenship, birth certificates, local resources and health and domestic violence issues. Some issues we resolve ourselves. For example, FEDO spoke to a husband who was beating his wife. We also talk at the District Council. At first I didn’t feel able to, but now I can, and I put my views forward.
 
In the beginning we were discriminated against by the Village Development Committee, which represents people locally, but I invited them to come to my community and see. I am proud of the fact that I have status in my community and that people get citizenship and their birth certificate because of my training. I want to carry on with FEDO and make women in my community powerful and have equal rights.”
Give more Dalit women the chance to defend their rights and improve their lives by making a donation today.