We stand in solidarity against discrimination and have a unique bond.

Married at just nine years old, Anita’s story is far from uncommon among Dalit women. Facing discrimination for her lower caste status, Anita was led to believe she was ‘untouchable’ by her community. Through joining a women-led group organised by our partner Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), Anita built strength, grew in confidence and made friendships. Now, as the President of the group, she stands up for the rights of Dalit women and girls.

44. Anita Dhobi, aged 35, is a President of FEDO group Shiba Madhesi Dalit Women’s Group in Purina Village, Nepalgunj, Nepal.

"I was married when I was nine years old and then moved into my marital home when I was 14. I did all the household chores and had to stay at home. I covered my face and was only allowed to sit on the floor, never on a seat; men would think women were insulting them if they sat on a chair or a bed. I faced so much discrimination from everyone because of my caste. I was not allowed in the houses of the upper caste people, and if I went into a house and touched a cup, no one would go near it.

Now, as a member of the Village Development Committee (VDC), I have secured a budget of 30,000 from the VDC and with it, we were able to build a 95 metre road for the community, which we needed badly. The old road was so damaged that in the rainy season the mud would come up to our knees and we needed to take a buffalo to get through it. I felt so proud as for the first time, I had the power to do something.

I then secured a further 60,000 from the VDC to build a drainage system so there is proper sanitation for our children, which has improved and eased the care we are able to provide to the children. I feel very good about what I have achieved, but I still face some discrimination from the people who hold very traditional beliefs.

Since being part of the savings and credit group, women believe in me and they asked me to participate in the Ward Citizen Forum (a multi donor funded programme supported by 6 UN agencies implemented across 75 districts of Nepal). I feel courageous and proud of my work, but I am still upset by the people who still discriminate against me. Despite this, thanks to FEDO, Dalit women becoming more active in the community and with this there is less discrimination.

When I was elected by the FEDO group as their president, it was one of the proudest moments of my life, I never thought I would be the president. It's shown me that the women I work with have confidence in me. It has been a long journey for me and I have come so far. I feel very happy to see the changes in the women within the group. There are 31 of us in the group and we each put 100 rupees in a month. Many women use the savings to pay for their child’s school fees, or to buy seeds for growing vegetables, buffalo farming or building toilets in their home.

Dalit women live with no economic stability as they don’t go to work and earn money because of the pressures from their families to stay at home. They don’t know what economic rights are, let alone their entitlement to them. But the groups help to educate them. I want more women’s groups to be established to help women invest money, understand their economic rights and feel empowered like we do – it is so important for women.

We stand in solidarity against discrimination and have a unique bond - I am very proud of the group."