Support for gender equality and social inclusion is a cross-cutting theme in all Helvetas activities in Nepal. In addition, we undertake a variety of actions that specifically address problems faced by women and Dalits.
Despite considerable social change in recent years, Nepalese society remains hierarchical, with women and members of occupational castes - Dalits - experiencing systematic discrimination. Religious and socio-cultural beliefs, values and norms, mean that women and Dalits generally have very limited access to or control over political, economic and public life.
Support for gender equality and social inclusion is a cross-cutting theme in all Helvetas activities in Nepal. In addition, we undertake a variety of actions that specifically address problems faced by women and Dalits. These include the following.
Unpaid care work – fetching water, gathering fuelwood, and fodder for livestock, preparing and cooking food, cleaning, washing clothes and caring for children, the elderly and the sick - are all considered the primary responsibility of women. In many rural areas, this represents a huge burden. Added to agricultural activities, there is little or no time for anything else, such as attending public meetings or conducting an activity to earn money. Working with small community groups, Helvetas uses REFLECT circle discussions along with time diaries to raise women’s own awareness, and empower them to identify actions to improve their situation. These they then negotiate within their own community and with government and private institutions. Identified solutions have included a children’s creche funded by a local municipality, labor-saving agricultural tools, and small business initiatives.
We promote Women’s Economic Empowerment alongside addressing unpaid care work, so that economic activities do not simply give women more work. We use tools such as area potential surveys and market mapping to identify promising business opportunities for women; offer training in entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy; and foster linkages to credit (which is often particularly difficult for women to obtain, as they lack collateral). We generally work through women’s groups, as women tend to feel more comfortable working together.
Tulasi BK, 24 years, mother of a 2 years old child
Menstruation is traditionally considered polluting and shameful. Adolescent girls often feel too embarrassed to attend school when menstruating, and in the West of the country, the system of forcing women to stay outside the home when menstruating, chhaupadi, is still widespread. They are also barred from using taps or toilets. Helvetas works with schools and women’s groups in raising awareness of the importance of menstrual hygiene, and promoting the use of reusable sanitary pads.
Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
GPO Box 688 Kathmandu
Phone: +977 1 5524 926