Empowering women and girls to transform their lives through higher education scholarships and technical diplomas in STEM
This post contains a story from a survivor of gender-based violence. We recognise that this story may cause distress or discomfort. We strongly encourage you to read this post in a safe and supportive environment and seek additional support and self-care should you need.
Education is key to breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty and violence.
Educating girls is linked to faster poverty reduction, better maternal health, lower child mortality, and reduced child marriage and violence against women.
This International Women's Day, we're pleased to share that we have committed to increase our support for education for women and girls, through undergraduate, postgraduate and technical skills scholarships. These scholarships will be delivered through our partner, Asha Nepal, with the support of their social worker, counsellor and job coordinator.
In one of the best examples of the long-term, transformative impact of our partner's work, some of these young people, with lived experience of trafficking and gender-based violence, were the first children in Asha Nepal’s care in 2008. With Asha's support, they have graduated from school, reintegrated with their family and are now pursuing higher education!
We are very pleased to share with you our Annual Report for 2020-21.
Thank you to our volunteers, donors, partners and community members, who share our mission to empower women and girls to achieve their full potential. We are planting seeds for trees we ourselves may never sit in the shade of, and this is important work that requires patient, steady and sustained support.
Your contributions, time and energy have immense value and we're so grateful that you choose to share them with us.
In Nepal, COVID-19 has caused more deaths than the 2015 earthquake, with over 11,500 recorded and likely many more considering issues around reporting and testing. The national, government-run domestic violence hotline has had more than double the reports of domestic violence since 2019. Of the families Asha Nepal supports, 90% have lost their main source of income and here in Australia, COVID-19 completely disrupted the funding model we relied on to support our partners, Asha Nepal and Samunnat. The situation was, and in many ways remains dire and urgent.
But despite all the challenges of 2020/21, there have been many cracks where the light has shone through. The grit and practical optimism demonstrated by our partner didis (a respectful term for older sister in Nepali), in the face of incredible adversity has served as a lodestar for the Board and the wider Project Didi community. Our response was to focus our energy on adapting our funding approach to address the immediate needs of our partners in Nepal. Incredibly, our doubling down in efforts, coupled with our supporter’s enormous generosity meant:
We were able to increase our funding support from one Family Based Care home to two
Six children graduated from Grade 12 and three children from Grade 10
18 tablets were provided to children to study remotely
Six children were reintegrated with their biological families
At our recent AGM, we reflected on the challenges of the past year for our partners in Nepal. There are now more fatalities from COVID-19 than the 2015 earthquake and the impact of livelihoods has been devestating. Reports of domestic violence to Nepal’s government-run domestic violence hotline have significantly increased since 2019. The inability to run in-person events and trips to Nepal has made fundraising challenging.
We're proud that despite a tough year, we've been able to continue to provide vital funding for programs that have real impact for women and girls in Nepal. With your generosity, we've expanded our funding from one to two Family Based Care homes and supported new education projects.
We focus on having deep, rather than wide, impact. In the past year, we supported:
These may seem like small numbers but we know family strengthening, education and safe employment breaks intergenerational cycles of poverty and violence. We know that a child that grows up in a safe family has stronger health, wellbeing and resilience and has greater opportunity to make informed decisions about their future. We also know that a girl with an education has a decreased risk of domestic violence, greater decision-making power and is more likely to educate her own children.
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.