Women Empowerment Program

Vision Nepal understands that empowering women (Women’s Empowerment) is an important step towards empowering families and communities, so our education program works to teach languages, mathematics, and practical skills to women.

Due to a lack of awareness and access to quality education in Nepal, gender discrimination is a major problem that is fueled by long-held superstitious beliefs and political leaders’ decreased political vision. The socio – economic status of women in Nepal is very poor; the women are discriminated against in every aspect of society including health, education, participation, income generation, decision making, access to policy making, and human rights.

While the general health of Nepalese people is one of the lowest in Asia, it is particularly bad for women; Nepal is one of the few countries in the world where life expectancy for women is lower than for men. One fifth of women get married in the early ages of 14-18, and as a result of youth pregnancy and premature births the rate of women dying preventable deaths is very high. All of these statistics: the high birth rates, low life expectancy, and high infant and maternal mortality rates indicate the poor health status of women.

There are very few women working in professional fields in Nepal. They may study law, but few are able to enter the profession. Women’s representation in the bureaucracy is also very low. Women serve as decision-makers in crop management, domestic expenditure (food items, clothes and other expenses), their children’s education, religious and social travel, and household maintenance but beyond these women’s decision-making roles seem to have declined in recent years.

In Nepal, violence against women is rampant. Research projects in Nepal concluded that 65 percent of women have endured verbal abuse and 32 percent emotional abuse, while 76 percent of the perpetrators were family members (UNICEF 2001).

Traditionally the status of women in Nepal was determined by the patriarchal social system and values, but now women’s rights are preserved and protected by the state and specific policies for the development of women. The government and other civil society groups are working hard to combat this issue, but there is still plenty of work to be done to effectively end violence against women.

According to the United Nations, Nepalese women remain at the lower end of the scale of the Human Development Index and the Gender Inequality Index in South Asia. The general immunization, health, and nutrition situation of women in Nepal remains very poor, particularly in rural areas. Statistics show that one out of every 25 Nepali women will die during pregnancy or child birth, making reproductive health care a major focus of intervention.

Major issues in women’s health:

Shorter life expectancy.

Elevated infant and child mortality rates and neglect of girls’ health.

High male to female sex ratio. Women die earlier and more often. Families prefer male off spring.

Lack of access to adequate health services, especially reproductive health care and contraceptive devices.

Many social pressures on women’s bodies, including virginity, menstruation, and giving birth.

Education:

Overwhelming gender gaps in literacy, enrollment and attainment offer a clear picture of gender disparity in the educational sector. Social, economic, and cultural factors exacerbate the situation and illustrate the need for a holistic response. As few Nepali women enter skilled work and leadership in the private and public sectors, it remains difficult for women to find role models, champions and new opportunities.

Major issues in women’s education:

Low absolute levels of female education (literacy rates and educational attainment)

Poor enrollment rates due to lack of household resources; lack of sense of importance since girls will marry; girls’ workload at home; high school fees; lack of female teachers or adequate facilities

Economy:

According to the United Nations, Nepal is the second poorest nation in Asia by per-capital GDP. While 40 percent of women are economically active, their role as manual laborers and mentors is discounted. Limited access to education and productive assets such as property and credit confines many to menial jobs in the agricultural sector. Working women are often self-employed, but cannot rise above subsistence farming without credit or training in modern farming practices.

Major issues in women and economy:

Women as unpaid family workers in subsistence agriculture.

Low level of technology and primitive farming practices.

Long work hrs. carrying the double burden of work in the family and farm; their contribution to income generation and economic well-being of the family is not recognized.

Poor access to credit and marketing networks.

Poor self-confidence.

Social and cultural barriers such as exclusive responsibility for household work, restrictions on mobility etc.

Objectives:

Vision Nepal Women Empowerment Program seeks to improve the quality of life of women living in the underprivileged, rural communities where we run our projects by providing them with economic tools, a basic education, improved health and a life without violence.

To achieve this objective for Education, Rights and Life Skills, Micro-credit Cooperative Support, Income Generation and Marketing, and Women’s Trafficking Prevention projects under our women empowerment program.

Vision Nepal believes that through the empowerment of women, the entire community can be transformed.

Vision Nepal Has worked with the Phulasi community, providing education and training to women aged 14 to 45, focusing where there is acute poverty, dependence on subsistence farming, poor health and sanitation and evidence of gender discrimination.

Vision Nepal invites:

International volunteers to work with our members and local volunteers to support the Women’s Empowerment Program. Help within the community to teach and promote women’s rights, initiate discussions on health issues, lead activities promoting life skills, or support the Women’s Trafficking Prevention project.

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