Friday, May 1, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Women For Human Rights, Single Women Group - Nepal

It's been almost a week since the devastating 7.8 earthquake in Nepal. The death toll has risen to over 5,000 and an estimated 2.8 million Nepalese are displaced from their homes.

It's difficult to find a reason to feel good under these circumstances and yet, there's always hope. Today's Feel Good Friday is focused on Women for Human Rights, Single Women Group. Since last Saturday they have been mobilizing volunteers to distribute food in different areas of Nepal. While there is more need than this group can possible address, they are doing what they can and updating social media with calls to action tagged as #HelpInAnyWayPossible.

And what do they do when they are not providing earthquake relief? Provide support to widows in the country, both young and old. They refer to the widows as "single women" because the term widow has such a negative connotation in Nepal.

According to their website, "Discrimination against women in Nepal is prevalent, due to the structure of the society deeply rooted in Patriarchal thoughts. Women are constantly marginalized and single women (widows) are in a (sic) even worse state. Single woman are considered as symbols of ill-omen and the cause of the death of their husbands." You can hear more about this by watching this 5:49 minute video.

Their mission is a simple one, "To empower women economically, politically, socially and culturally in order to live dignified lives and enjoy the value of human rights."

To accomplish this they divide their areas of focus into five pillars, which you can read about in detail here. Briefly, they are as follows:

  1. Create awareness of victims of cultural torture and provide a scholarship fund and school supplies for children of these single women.
  2. Train women in the development of different kinds of income generating activities, provide micro loans and education on effective ways of saving money.
  3. An advocacy campaign for the human rights of women as well as counseling and skills development to help conflict affected women recover from traumatic experiences and reintegrate back into society.
  4. Improvement of single women groups to articulate demands to improve their situations by securing rights from their local bodies of government.
  5. Building networks at the South Asian regional and global levels to increase awareness of the rights of single women.

Since the creation of WHR in 1994 they've changed laws ranging from increased property rights for single women to being able to get a passport without a male relative's approval. They now have a membership base of over 100,000 women in 73 districts!

To follow their progress on earthquake recovery and their work with single women, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @WHRNepal.

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