Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
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Imagine you are a woman in
Here are some of the obstacles you might face in trying to ensure your sons’ rightful inheritance:
1. Your former husband’s family has taken the land.
2. You need birth certificates for your sons to prove their claim, but unfortunately, the certificates were also lost in the earthquake.
3. To get new birth certificates, you will need to travel. This means you need a male from your family to travel with, permission from the eldest male in your husband’s family to make the trip, and money for the fare.
The money won’t be easy to come by. Right now, your former husband’s family is providing you with food, but no money. They won’t pay for your sons’ education. Obtaining permission from the eldest male is an uphill battle, as it is in his interest to keep his hold on the land. Ditto goes for the male who would travel with you.
This is just the beginning of the uphill battle for many of the women in
If the woman above had daughters instead of sons, her fight would have been very different – it might have been to protect her daughters from underage marriage to much older men. If she had mourned for 40 days over the death of her husband, as many Muslim women do, she would not have gone out in public, making it impossible for her to receive relief aid that was distributed during that time. No matter her situation, she would face many obstacles to overcome.
That’s why UUSC partnered with an organization called Bedari  after the earthquake. Bedari, which means awareness, is working hard to address some of the issues that are specific to women – issues like land rights, access to education, and access to sustainable livings. In the aftermath of a disaster, it’s often women and girls who are most affected, and Bedari, alongside UUSC, is working to address this disparity.
At a recent educational program for UUSC staff, Martha Thompson, the program manager for Rights in Humanitarian Crises at UUSC, talked about the situation facing women in