Inner mountains are hard to climb.
Seeing the Everest trek advertised as empowering travel for women, I thought I’d better go before I get too rickety and humourless. It was good to be free, to fill up on pure air, be inspired and walk. I adore monasteries, singing, eating momos, watching Sherpa and their pack animals tackle the days with tenacity. With the challenge of altitude, appreciating the hard lives of others was ever present.
Project Didi helps young women who need protection from violence, sexual abuse and support to be self- determining. Climbing escarpments of fear, discrimination and repression is exhausting. Asha Nepal work tirelessly to help women who have no family support. I’m glad our donation really helps. Housemothers are kind. Solidarity and safety their strength.
Whilst Nepal’s sights and sounds are tantalising, a visual surprise around every Kathmandu corner, the real life of cultural constraints and customs makes a tattoo. Take your laundry for washing, there’s a brothel above… women with no choice. A lovely bangle is made by a family sitting on the dirt floor of their very hot hut. A beautiful carpet made by women in a shed, fibres and stale air for breath. A man selling a flute no one wants. He shouts his frustrations. Indelible memories of shrines and marigolds and at Asha house; hands inked in henna.
Our lady powered walking group were delightful, interesting, supportive, funny, energetic, grateful. A gang of Didis.
Ang Dami Sherpa spoke of running from Everest to Namche Bazaar. In May 2013 she was 3 months pregnant and won the women’s marathon challenge for a second time. Incredible as this feat is, she has recently lost her husband, runs a guest house, treks 4 hours to visit us, she is a gutsy gazelle and I’m in awe.
Education is essential to ending gender-based discrimination and poverty. For the women and girls we work with, survivors of trafficking and abuse, education strengthens their agency, empowering them to take part in the decisions that affect their lives.
In Nepal, only 3% of girls complete upper secondary school.
“Through lower expected earnings in adulthood and higher fertility over their lifetime, a lack of education for girls leads to higher rates of poverty for households, increasing the risks of trafficking. This is due to both losses in income and higher basic needs from larger household sizes. ”
“Women with primary education earn 14 to 19% more than those with no education at all. Yet women with secondary education may expect to earn almost twice as much, and those with tertiary education three times as much as those with no education. Women with a secondary education are less likely to state that they do not have enough money to buy food versus women with primary education or less."
Secondary/tertiary education also improves:
Throughout their schooling, Asha Nepal provides the young women in their care with tailored support, important in preventing the high school dropout rates for young women and girls in Nepal. Once in grade 10, the girls start selecting courses, with Asha providing guidance, employment pathways and options for further education.
We asked two girls at Asha Nepal about their school experience, and what education means to them.