Our vision: Economically, socially, legally and healthily strengthened Nepalese women and girls who demand, promote and achieve the end of gender-based violence on their own.
During the time of Chhaupadi and in cases of domestic violence, we provide women and girls in Simikot, Humla, a warm and safe place to sleep in our women’s shelter. This is the first and currently the only safe place for women affected by violence in the entire district of Humla (50,000 inhabitants).
Those staying at the shelter are protected from physical, sexual and psychological abuse by male family members and from the dangers of Chhaupadi, and experience mutual exchange and support in an amicable, empowering and loving environment.
The shelter also serves as a venue for a range of capacity-building activities, empowering women and girls to speak out, in a collaborative process, against physical, psychological and sexual abuse.
Our women’s groups are fora for individual and collective empowerment and the transfer of practical economic, sociolegal and health knowledge. They include training on alternative income generation as well as team-building activities, discussion groups, prevention work and forum theatre, workshops and lectures.
Together, women and girls become experts in their environment and peaceful fighters who represent and enforce their interests, making change possible.
Knowledge of one’s own rights, networking of the female community and empowerment of every single woman pave the ground for ending all forms of violence.
Every week, the women shelter’s residents develop and implement a women’s program on the local radio station to spread the knowledge gained in the women’s groups.
Under the guidance of the radio editor and a social worker, women and girls develop their own reports, documentaries, interviews and music and comedy programs.
The local society is gradually sensitized to women-specific issues and experiences women for the first time as a self-determined, interconnected, knowing and self-confident group of people.
In our agricultural training sessions, our shelter’s residents, whose families usually have very little land, learn how to efficiently cultivate the soil both horizontally and vertically.
Vertical fields are built from recycled rice sacks and used wooden pallets. With the techniques of greenhouse farming, women learn how to use recycled plastic sheets to cultivate their fields also during the winter months.
Similarly, women learn about methods of food preservation and processing.
Our community chicken farm and beekeeping will start in spring 2019.
Agriculture knowledge and additional source of income contribute to reducing malnutrition and undernourishment and promote mutual exchange and trade. This in turn allows for greater independence from imported products, leading to an improved economic situation of households, growing self-confidence of women and girls and a reduction of structural violence.
All activities are implemented with the constant involvement of the women’s communities, opinion leaders and shamans.
We also offer consulting services and self-help groups for men. Thematic emphasis is placed on alcohol and gambling addiction, frustration management as well as on the transfer of basic economic and sociolegal knowledge.
The entire community is involved in the continuous development of the project in the form of participatory concept development and is also responsible for monitoring the project. This leads to an increased acceptance of our project and of the change we are promoting. Only when women’s communities recognize the benefits of progress and are actively involved in all planning steps, can we achieve sustainable improvements in the lives of women and girls.
Through photography and short films made by those affected, we combine art with social commitment.
In striking images, our photographers capture social phenomena amidst the Himalayas, in order to inform Western civil society about gender-specific problems on the ground.
Our photographic exhibitions offer insights into the lives of women and girls in the remote regions of West Nepal and pave the way for transcultural education and knowledge transfer as well as cross-border interest, understanding and responsibility.
Nepal Trust Austria – Mahila Avaz
© 2020 MAHILA AVAZ. Fotos: © Josip Jukic-Sunaric