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
Importantly, whilst dealing with the urgent and immediate situation in Nepal, we also embarked on an ambitious education and advocacy campaign at home. Our #SomethingforSlavery campaign to help end modern slavery in the Indian tea industry is a fundamental part of our approach to longer-term strategic change for women and girls. After 8 months of campaigning, 10+ virtual tea parties and over 200 emails sent to T2 and its parent company Unilever, the voices of the Project Didi community had an impact. Unilever committed to ensuring that everyone who directly provides goods and services to the company earns at least a living wage or income by 2030. With over 60,000 suppliers in over 160 countries the impact of this commitment for workers and their families could be wide reaching.
The beauty of the smaller scale, deep (rather than broad) work we do through Didi is the multiplier effect we know the work has. 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.
We are small and 100% volunteer run. We have considered our size, and what that means for what we can achieve and the best path to impact. We are ambitious, yet practical. Critical local organisations like Asha Nepal and Samunnat, working for sustainable change to complex challenges in Nepal, are often stifled by short-term funding cycles, poor collaboration between local and international NGOs with overlapping missions, deficit-based approaches and the constraints of programs designed to satisfy external and often misguided policy. First and foremost, we are here to support the evidence-based work done by Nepali women with lived experience. We listen to and are guided by them. This is our greatest strength as an organisation.
In the last year we have made significant developments in capacity building, partnering with the Global Development Group to leverage their resources and tax deductibility status, strengthening our governance frameworks and filling skills gaps with new board member appointees and new volunteers. In 2022 we will continue to strengthen the administrative backbone of Project Didi to act as a springboard for the impact we want to have, with a focus on:
But perhaps even more fundamentally, we plan on evoking our imaginations. Global think tank, Demos Helsinki, recently released a paper on what they saw as the secondary crisis to the COVID pandemic: the crisis of imagination.
"The world faces a deficit of social imagination. We find it easy to imagine apocalypse and disaster; or to imagine new generations of technology. But we find it much harder than in the past to imagine a better society a generation or more into the future.”
Against the backdrop of all the challenges and hardship we are grappling with, our greatest weapon against despondency is our imagination. In the next month our Board will meet for a strategy session and, buoyed by what we managed to achieve during one of the most challenging years to date, we will unearth new possibilities and potential for how we can be of service to our partner organisations in Nepal, and our community both in Australia, and around the world.
We look forward to having you involved in our community. Here’s to a year of transformative imagination!