Empowerment is possible with community mobilisation and self-help groups.
Meet Rama*, a woman from the village called Bhatgaun in Naraharinath, Kalikot district of Karnali province.
Rama lives with her family of six, including her husband and children. They own a small farming field where they grow crops and vegetables. However, the harvest is not enough to sustain the family year-round, so her husband goes to India in the winter season to earn money as a seasonal migrant worker.
A few years ago, the INF Nepal Kalikot branch formed a self-help group (SHG) called Mahadev SHG in Rama’s village. “INF staff oriented us about the group and its advantages of joining it. I joined as a member of the SHG,” Rama says. The SHG consists of 21 members who meet twice a month, discuss social issues and identify community problems. The SHG then makes action plans to address these issues.
Rama and her group made various action plans, including the construction of an irrigation canal, safe drinking water taps, pathways and roads, and waste management, and implemented them. “Through these group meetings, I gradually increased my knowledge and speaking ability in front of others. Eventually, I got the opportunity to mobilise my SHG as a group facilitator,” Rama explains. Although she had limitations due to her educational background, Rama’s passion for serving her community did not deter her.
“I have always wanted to contribute to my community, but I didn’t know where to start,” says Rama. “I never had the opportunity to attend school because of our family’s economic situation, so I spent my childhood days taking care of cows and buffaloes.”
The Nepal government encourages female participation in local government structures by making female representation in the elected body at the local, provincial and central levels mandatory. Rama decided to contest as a Ward Member to represent her community and women’s voices and stand for their rights. “I won the election and was selected to represent my ward as a Ward Member,” Rama proudly shares.
Now Rama works as an elected Ward Member of the local ward office, advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, participating in discussions and giving opinions. “I am grateful to INF for playing a vital role in empowering and encouraging me to be where I am today. INF played a significant role in building confidence inside me,” Rama joyfully remarks.
Rama’s story is an inspiring testament to the power of community mobilisation and self-help groups. It shows that with determination, hard work, and support, people can overcome poverty and become empowered to create a better life for themselves and their communities.
*Name changed to protect the identity
This article is written by Naya BK, Team Leader of INF Nepal Kalikot branch.