Tackling the roots of marginalisation in Nepal
Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but it is also one of the poorest. For many Nepalese women and girls, marginalisation, oppression, and even violence is a daily reality, but through the vision and determination of All We Can’s talented local partner Kopila Nepal, things are changing for the better.
Education can play a vital role in addressing poverty. In Nepal, one of the poorest countries in Asia, schooling is free for all children up to the age of 14, but the literacy rates tell a different story – being 63% for men and just 35% for women. Since 2003, All We Can has been backing the work of a local organisation, Kopila Nepal, which aims to systematically address the barriers that children face in gaining an education. Their focus is on rural communities where inequality is most acute and few other organisations are operating.
Kopila began by raising awareness about children’s rights in remote villages. They also lobbied local authorities to improve access to schools and the quality of education available. When it became clear that some parents were reluctant to participate because they were reliant on their children’s labour on their subsistence farms, Kopila started alternative income-generation initiatives, and funded school uniforms and equipment for children from poorer families.
Over time, Kopila began to have a significant impact. However, it found that progress was being held back by entrenched attitudes, particularly towards girls. According to Bina Silwal, co-founder and director of the organisation, “We realised that for working children in the remote villages, education alone cannot change their life. Children were hearing one thing in the school and in the training we offered, but when they were back with the family, it was a different story. We found that women were very affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse, and that girl children were treated very badly in the school and in the community.”
So with support from All We Can, Kopila started a programme to work with women suffering from domestic abuse and mental illness, and formed groups where women can now share support, develop their confidence, and secure justice.
Tackling deep-rooted disadvantage and poverty takes time, dedication, local knowledge and sustained investment. All We Can has worked alongside Kopila at every stage of its development, providing funding, advice and training. “All We Can always supported us,” said Bina Silwal. “We are very close partners. They are our supportive hand and always encourage us. Because of All We Can’s trust in us, and a lot of hard work, we have been able to make many changes in the lives of people in the villages.”