We are now respected, we can access funds, we speak out to say what we want.

Deemed ‘untouchable’ by her community, Kamala faced discrimination for being a Dalit woman. People were afraid of her and she felt ashamed. With support from our partner Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), Kamala joined the Shiba Madesi Dalit Women’s Group where she gained the skills and confidence to claim her rights and take control of her life.

57. Kamala B.K, aged 42, is a member of Shiba Madhesi Dalit Women’s Group in Purina Village, Nepalgunj, Nepal.

"I have been outcast as an ‘Untouchable’. It is humiliating and very painful to be discriminated against because of your caste. People thought that if they touched me something bad would happen to them, they were scared of me. I hid my face, but deep-down I just wanted to hide completely. I lived with it every day, the shame and the people’s fear.

Through the training I received from FEDO, I am now more aware of my legal rights, I know that I should not be discriminated against because of my caste. I am aware of Government training available and have had training on health and sanitation and the law. FEDO has empowered through education and we can now bring our knowledge back to the community.

I have also taken part in training courses for sewing, pattern cutting and business skills, which has led me to run my own tailoring shop, becoming financially independent for the first time in my life. It feels so good to be earning a living and being able to pay for my child’s education. I now have courage and can work for myself, I don’t have to ask for money from my husband – this fills my heart with happiness.

Now, we understand that as women, it is important to be economically active and we have a right to be. Before, most Dalit women here didn’t know they had economic rights and could run their own businesses using funding from the government. It was impossible for us to take out a loan because of the high interest rates and also many of us didn’t have citizenship cards. But our savings group meets every month and we put a small amount of money aside, and even though it isn’t much, it all adds up and makes a huge difference to us. We can take a loan from the savings group when we need to and we know we will be treated fairly.

Since coming together as a group, we can now speak out. Before, we were silent and oppressed. But because of our training and group support, we have been able to move forward from the situation we were in, to a positive place. We are now respected, we can access funds, we can raise our voice to say what we want and what we think should happen in our community.

I come to the women’s group so I can support others and together, we are able to make a positive change in our community and for each other. I am now confident in myself and know what I can achieve.

I want an end to the discrimination between lower and upper castes. I want unity for all of us.”