Nepal: Strong girls!

Adolescent girls (and boys) from Dalit and other marginalised communities in South Nepal get access to quality education and a brighter future

Subject:
Education, gender equality, empowerment of girls and women, income generation

Location:
Terai, South-Nepal

Duration:
01.09.2018 to 31.12.2021

Budget:
448.000 €, of which 341.000 € grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The remaining 62.451 € is being funded jointly by Karuna Deutschland e.V. and Karuna Trust.

Target group reached:
The primary target group consists of about 900 Dalit girls aged 8 to 14years, who are particularly marginalized and need particular support. A total of almost 6.000 students attend the 15 selected target schools. They will all benefit from more enabling conditions and better trained teachers. 210 teachers are the target group for teachers’ training. 600 mothers are participating in 24 mothers’ groups with income generating training and entrepreneurship development. Another target group are all representatives of schools, school administration and other government actors, at least 750 stakeholders in total – including about 135 members of the SMCs (School Management Committees) of the 15 schools.

Challenges

Dalit girls aged 8 to 1414 years in Nepal and particularly in the three target districts in Terai have to overcome great social and economic obstacles to complete school successfully. There are five main reasons why Dalit girls cannot exercise their right to education:

  1. Caste and gender discrimination put Dalit girls at the lowest end of the social scale.
  2. Parents traditionally attach little value to the education of girls.
  3. Poor and little educated parents are afraid of the costs for the education of their daughters.
  4. Inadequate equipment (toilets, furniture, materials), poor didactics and negative experiences of girls at school cause unsureness and rejection.
  5. Girls leave school because of early marriage, driven by economic hardship of the family.

The selected districts are characterised by a high proportion of disadvantaged communities and low social indicators. In the three districts, 15 schools are in particular need of support; they have all been visited and involved in the planning.

Project goal

Girls from marginalized and Dalit communities have equitable access to inclusive quality education enabling them to complete primary school and transition to secondary education in three districts in Terai.

Main activities

  1. Better schools: Training of teachers and refurbishment of school environment.
  2. Power Programme „Strong girls“: Strengthening of adolescent girls so that they become confident to fight for their rights and wellbeing.
  3. Economic empowerment of Dalit families: Vocational trainings and livelihood development for mothers in self help groups.
  4. Local stakeholders support girls’ education: Sensitisation of education authorities in rural municipalities for the need of adolescent girls.
 

Stories from the field

Sunita​* from grade 5

When all schools in Nepal closed with the lockdown in March, the children of the 15 schools in the “Strong girls” project were suddenly stuck at home in their villages. Sunita is one of them: “I was shocked after our school was closed because of Corona. All of a sudden, I had no contact with my teachers anymore. And so long without lessons, I worried that I would forget everything again.”

Schools are closed because of Corona – the radio learning program of the “Strong Girls” project in Nepal enables learning at home

Sunita’s parents can’t help her, they were completely busy with the daily routine and getting enough food for the family of six. Fortunately, our project partners quickly put together a learning program for radio and television. Thanks to additional donations, Karuna was able to quickly provide the necessary funds. Sunita says: “It’s easy to understand and I’m coming along well. Every afternoon at five o’clock the program for the fifth grade comes on. And once a week our teacher comes to the village and brings us new worksheets and discusses what we have done. It’s great that we can continue learning despite Corona.”

 

* Name changed

Gyanodaya women’s group

With the pandemic soaring high, many people are out of job or restricted to less work. But the members of Gyanodaya women’s group have a different story to share during this difficult time.

They are very busy. Busy making and selling washing powder. Just before the Nepal government issued a countrywide lockdown in March, members of the Gyanodaya Self Help Group were able to buy more raw materials which are required to produce washing powder. Therefore, the production part was not a problem; however, selling these products during the lockdown was a big challenge. Markets were closed and many shops were not ready to buy new products. With the help of the project team they were able to reach and identify new customers. “Washing powder is every women’s requirement therefore who can better use it than our neighbors. We succeeded to sell all our washing powder to our neighbors during the lockdown”, says the group’s president Buddhishri.

Gyanodaya women’s group has participated in the vocational training in July 2019. “We were excited to do more, therefore we decided to register our group with the local government. We even opted for making incense stick and toilet cleaner apart from the washing powder. We are able to sell our products and earn good income.” The work was even recognized by the local government. Hence, the group successfully applied for a small fund from the government. With this they could purchase a proper machine for washing powder production.

“This support from our local government encouraged us so much and enables long term income generation” a member of the group, Kamala rejoiced.

Gynodaya women’s group is part of the Strong Girls project. Who knew that a week’s training for washing powder and incense making could have such an impact for 20 women and their families? It saved the families even during the hard days of the lock down and economic recession. Kamala says: “This time we have been able to purchase double the raw materials from the profit we made from our prior sales. Now we look even more optimistic into the future”.

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