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Participation of Women in the Nepal Project

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After the children, let’s see how women played their roles. Here is about adult women’s literacy program and self group activities. In the late 1990s, a literacy program for adult women was popular in Nepal because in those days, evidence was available that it could improve infant mortality rate. However, it must be done at a bigger scale. So we conducted literacy program for the women, about 3,500. And the first course was basic literacy education for six months, and then we followed a practical literacy education by using health textbooks. Because we wanted them to learn something about health. Before that, another textbook was used in other areas. That was the textbook of income generation.
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That time, women went for income generation and did not learn a lot about illiteracy so we changed the textbook from income generation to health. And then we expected more participation will be done for different health activities by them. So in those days, there was no electricity in the toilet area, no telephone, and no motor road.
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So they had to learn how to read, how to write, and how to calculate using lamps after 6:00 p.m. at night. And they used to tell us it was the first time for them to join this kind of program. Until then, only men were the target of the development activities. And it was the first time for them to do something together with other women. I was very surprise to listen to these voices. It was indeed the first experience for them to participate in community development activities. Literacy programs went on well. However, even during and after the practical literacy program, it was very difficult to see a visible outcome. In the family, women became literate there. Well, so what?
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What kind of improvement could be found, you know daily family life? Some husbands started to complain and we needed to do something to solve this problem. The answer was kitchen garden. We provided the seeds of vegetables and trained them to make a kitchen garden. They had a lot of free land and eventually husbands also started to support these women’s activities. Because he could enjoy rich food for lunch and dinner. We also conducted a vegetable contest to celebrate the successful growth of these vegetables. And the lady on the right side is the winner of this contest. After that, some communities constructed a library to retain their literacy skills. And this was supported by a donor agency.
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We also provided library books to many women’s groups to retain their literacy skills. Also income generation activities started. One of them is to raise a goat and sell it during the festival. And within a year or so, they earned $200 to $300 USD by these activities. And one of the women told us, “Now I can borrow money from our savings and can send my child to clinic when she gets sick. It was very difficult before that, but now it’s possible.” And it’s an expected outcome of this project. So after the active participation of community people, children and women, school environment was very much improved. Literacy rate was also increased a lot.
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In nutrition environment, get better by making a lot of kitchen gardens. Although we gave some support, I believe they have done it themselves with the active community participation. So in summary, women are also assets for health promotion and they can contribute to improve their well-being as well as their family and the community.

Dr. Jimba expands on the participation of women and its effects.

The project began with literacy education for women. Over time, this developed beyond study groups. The Kitchen Garden Training and Income Programs initiated, and lead to immediate, visible effects. In the end, women became major contributors of environmental development. They were both the agents of change and the beneficiaries.

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