The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Light and Leadership
November 16, 2015
Women in Nepal
As UUSC continues its work in post-earthquake Nepal, it’s paying special attention to the struggles of women who are too often discriminated against: single widows and Dalit women. UUSC has teamed up with two new partner organizations to strengthen women’s leadership, advocate for women’s rights, and encourage women’s entrepreneurship in the midst of the recovery.
Single widows standing up against violence
The Single Women Group of Women for Human Rights (WHR) is a Nepali nongovernmental organization actively working for the rights of single widows. Dedicated to building a vibrant network of widows, WHR aims for an equitable society where widows are respected and can live in dignity with sufficient access to their social, cultural, economical, legal, and political rights.
WHR has succeeded in mobilizing widows as key agents of change in their respective communities — and its organizing reach is extensive:
- Over 100,000 single women
- 2,550 village development committees
- 73 districts of Nepal
Advocacy is one of WHR’s major strengths, and the organization works to change the discriminatory laws and policies against single women. WHR is also working on disaster act advocacy, aimed at ensuring compensation for and inclusion of women-headed households.
UUSC is specifically partnering with WHR to decrease violence against women and support survivors. WHR has strong experience in this issue and has been working directly with single women leaders in the displacement camps around Kathmandu to educate women about sexual exploitation and violence. UUSC is funding a project in the Saptarai District of Nepal, an area witnessing high prevalence of violence against women and girls. With a well-established network in the area — 800 single women there are affiliated with group — WHR’s plans include district-level strategy, awareness raising, documentation of cases, mapping of safe facilities and functionality, and educational workshops.
Women’s power plus solar power
Empower Generation (EG), UUSC’s other new partner in Nepal, is advancing women’s rights, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship all at once. EG supports support women-led businesses distributing clean energy solutions to their communities. After the earthquake, EG began a targeted relief effort called Project Sol that meets myriad needs.
Project Sol distributes much-needed solar light and mobile charging products to people who have been displaced. At the same time, it creates income-generating opportunities for women living in the affected areas by training women in sales and marketing and by providing starter kits for solar power enterprises. Through Project Sol, EG working with UUSC to support women in the Gorkha district, in which 36,578 households were heavily damaged or destroyed in the earthquake.
In an effort to create a more resilient Gorkha, EG provides technical training, skills, and resources in collaboration with an organization called Empower Dalit Women of Nepal (known as ADWAN). Together the two groups empower Dalit women to develop solar enterprises and become entrepreneurs in this area. Empower Generation is a expert leader in the field, and Anya Cherneff, EG’s executive director, recently won a C3E Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Award in the International category.