This 4-year project will give 600 impoverished Dalit women living in some of the most unforgiving and infertile land in Chitwan, Nepal the skills and knowledge to establish microenterprises through finance management groups, workshops that teach new skills such as crop management, and literacy and numeracy classes. Women are able to access small loans for business. This enables them to create dignified livelihoods, increasing their family income significantly.
Almost half of Nepalese Dalits live below the poverty line and more than 80% are landless. 90% do not have food security and one-third of children never enrol in primary school. Commonly uneducated and subject to abuse, caste discrimination adds to the already-existing hardships of extreme poverty. Less than a quarter of Dalit women are literate and struggle to earn enough money for basic necessities, trapped in a cycle of degrading manual labour with no hope of a way out.
Our project provides 600 women finance management education, access to microloans through finance groups and workshops in new skills such as crop growing, bringing excluded women together to learn how they can improve their lives.Women are able to set up new businesses, increasing their family's income, their confidence and no longer have to participate in undignified caste-based labour. An awareness raising programme in the community on women's rights is also offered, changing attitudes.
Women in the pilot year of the project have increased their monthly income from 150 to 12,000 Nepalese rupees through creating new enterprises such as growing and harvesting mushrooms. They have realised their own capacity for learning and are now prioritising education for their children. Families have been able to access funds to pay for health needs and no longer struggle with food security. Women for the first time are treated according to their potential, not their gender or caste.