The countryside is a very different place to live
Especially when it comes
to the position of women and girls
Nepal is a country of opposites. In the city (Kathmandu) we live like a frog in a well and have little idea of what is going on outside the city in the countryside. The countryside is a very different place to live to life in the city, especially when it comes to the position of women. Girls and women in rural areas are significantly disadvantaged compared to our boys and men. Girls at a young age have all kinds of tasks to do for the family at home. In many cases this is at the expense of their school and homework, which makes them drop out of school sooner. In Nepal, the legal age for marriage is 20 years, but a lot of girls get married well under the age of 20, without adequate schooling or preparation for work outside the home.
Sheetal herself was born and raised in Nepal in the city of Kathmandu and is passionate about the rights and independence of women. “We started an empowerment and livelihoods program in Nepal which ensures that girls and young women are socially and economically strengthened. In groups of young women together they work on their resilience, their knowledge and skills. And to learn a profession. They learn about their bodies and the risks of having children too young. But also to say NO and stand up for and support each other.” Sheetal is proud of the fact that BRAC teaches girls in rural areas a profession that can help them become independent. “There are many girls who have chosen technical occupations: occupations that mean that you are not tied to the house but travel around, and most importantly: with which you can earn money. “
“I recently met a girl named Ramita, who dropped out of school to help her mother at home take care of her four brothers. Her father hadn't come back from working in India for over 15 years. Ramita wants to work and earn an income so she chose to become an electrician. When in the last months the pandemic meant that Nepal has been in lockdown, her brothers lost their jobs in the hospitality industry in the city and were forced to return home. But Ramita kept working and has a good income which makes her now the breadwinner for the whole family. Those are the stories that should inspire entire generations.”
“We have broken the tradition of women being only housebound. Especially in the rural communities, the girls are at the forefront of a new movement. They are breaking with the traditional division of gender roles and the strict separation of men's and women's professions. Slowly, parents get used to this, especially when they see that it brings benefits and the girls can stand on their own two feet.”
Sheetal is BRAC’s Acting Country Representative of our Nepal office. She is surrounded by female colleagues. We think that all of this signals that Nepalese society is ready to embrace female independence and leadership. BRAC Nepal certainly is!