Give a hand in the construction of Chhahari : A safe space for single women in Nepal

Pratiksha Rajopadhyaya [Youth Wing Member]

Single women are amongst the most marginalized and vulnerable in the community due to their marital status, which leads to many forms of discrimination. The needs and rights of single womenare different compared to married women. The different socio-cultural traditions outcast them and restrict their social, economic and political mobility. They are kept isolated from various societal practices considering being ill-omened. Their human rights are violated starting from restriction on using the colour red to forcing on becoming vegetarian. Such discriminative social laws make single women more vulnerable. A number of single women are displaced due to the conflict, facing psychological trauma and mental torture from the society.
Poor employment opportunities, limited access to market, no collateral to access to credit and discriminatory wages forcing them to work in informal sectors
Lack of education increases poverty, emphasizes low status of single women and make them vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse.

Single women suffer due to :
1. Homelessness and displacement, “property grabbing” and thrown out.
2. Lack of inheritance and property rights
3.  Lack of education, vocational training (only 11% single women are literate, census 2011)
4. Lack of Employment  (75% single women have married in between the ages of 10-19, census 2011)
5. No/limited access to market
6. No job replacement after husband’s death
7. Lack of secured shelter
8. Discriminatory wages
9. No collateral to access credit
10. Limited, restricted or lack of access to services -health, nutrition, housing and social security

Chhahari in Nepali means the shade of a tree where weary travellers can reenergize and continue with their journey. Similarly, this metaphor has been adapted in the services provided by ‘Chhahari’ to the vulnerable single women who come to Chhahari to seek rejuvenation and healing in the secure and caring environment. The single women who come here receive counselling for their trauma as well as get equipped with tools to deal with the discriminating society outside. Chhahari has been able to provide rehabilitation services to vulnerable and needy women. The duration of this service can be a few days to months as needed.

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Intern Profile : Subina Shrestha

– Pratiksha Rajopadhyaya [Youth Wing Member]

A young and energetic young woman, ‘Subina Shrestha’ is one of the interns of Women for Human Rights, single women group(WHR).  Confident and and hard working by nature, she believes that WHR is a great platform to learn and empower herself in practical field. Working in a friendly environment, she has explored herself in a social field.

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1. Why did you join WHR?
I have always been keen to work in the field of women empowerment. So, for me volunteering in WHR was a great opppurtunity to grow myself and learn more about issues related to single women. When I was doing my Masters, I first heard about WHR and since then I had a desire to work here. When I heard about youth wing membership in WHR, I instantly decided to join WHR.  I have joined this organization to learn the skills related to operation of organization, management skills: planning implementation documentation and monitoring, to participate in event organized by an organization.

2. How has WHR helped you?
WHR has been an amazing platform to enhance my professional capability by grabbing all oppurtunities that come across me. Through the help, support and encouragement of our coordinators , other staff members and co-interns, I have been able to do all the works effectively and efficiently. We are also given feedback of the activities that we do, which helps us to keep record of our mistakes so , we can work on our weaknesses.

3. What issues have you learnt about regarding single women through WHR?
I have learnt about Social Security Allowance Issue, war and conflict impacts and their case study, Gender Issue, CEDAW, National Action Plan on Implementation of the United Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820, Women deprived from economy issue, VAW and Citizenship issue.

4. How is the working environment around WHR?
The working environment in WHR is very cooperative and friendly. There is mutual understanding between our staff members, coordinator and volunteers so there is always positive vibes in our work place and thus we are always willing to complete the task in given time.

5. How do you plan to use the experiences attained from WHR in your future career?
This experience will definitely help me to meet my objectives regarding my career. This will help to enrich my resume  stronger in my desire field. The knowledge I have gained will be utilized, shared and able to contribute to make a better place in a society.

Intern Profile : Karishma Malakar

Pratiksha Rajopadhyaya [Youth Wing Member]
KARISHMA MALAKAR , an active,  friendly and fun-loving person who is currently working as an intern in WHR(Women For Human Rights, single women group) says, “She is motivated by the idea of learning new things and exploring herself for growth and improvement.” . She recently completed her intermediate level studies from DAV college and is now preparing herself to build her career in the field of engineering. Even though she is a Science student, she is very keen to minimize the societal problems  and so she wants to contribute in upliftment of single women in the society.

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Intern Profile : Shobna Adhikari

    – Pratiksha Rajopadhyaya [Youth Wing Member]

SHOBNA ADHIKARI, who is currently doing her Bachelors in Development Studies from Camad College is one of our interns. She’s an enthusiastic and hardworking person. She says that before coming to WHR, she used to take the issues of single women very lightly but after she started working at WHR, she realized the problems faced by single women.

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Intern Profile : Nija Silwal

– Pratiksha Rajopadhyaya [Youth Wing Member ]

A smart , fun loving and cheeerful young woman, NIJA SILWAL joined WHR a few months back.  An enthusiast by nature, she believes that WHR has helped  and guided her a lot to acquire more knowledge about condition of single women in our country or let’s just say in the world. She says, “Before joining WHR, I wasn’t much aware about the condition of single women in our country. I didn’t know that not only widows but the women whose husbands are still alive are also undergoing through the similar condition.”

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Why did you join WHR?
Inspite of being a Social Science’s Student, I didn’t get the oppurtunity to do any concrete or critical study of any particular issue or event. Being absolutely respectful to the educational institution I completed my undergraduate studies in, I always missed the element of practicality in my college. As we all know, in this era of digitalization and practical education, just merely theoretical knowledge will do no good to our understanding of any issue or subject, practical implementation of the theoretical knowledge we attain is extremely important. We must have the skills and ability to think outside the box to analyze and work on the social issues around us. Since WHR is itself a non-governmental organization working for the rights of single women , I knew that it could help me enhance my knowledge and understanding on social issues and also help me develop my ability to work as a professional through practical action. That is why I joined WHR.

How has WHR helped you?
WHR has helped me a lot in improving my skills and developing my abilities in various fields such as report writing process, translations, data entry systems and so on. To be more critical, my writings were not up to the mark, which I have  improved after working in WHR and yes I’m still working on it. Its not that I only learnt to improve my mistakes and my weak points but I also learnt and I am still learning about the problem of Single Women. Before coming to this organization, I was completely unaware about the problems and issues of single women. This organization has made me aware about the matters of single women which every youth and every individual of the society should be knowledgable about ,as this is not only the problem of a particular family or society but of the whole nation. Women are not only facing problem being single but they are also suffering the problems when they have a life partner with them. They are confined within the four walls of their homes and they are not involved in any social, political activities. In the case of Single women, they are not involved in any religious, social practices and  the reason behind this is that, their involvement on such practices is believed to be a bad omen. Such mindset of people have led to the single women to be dominated in the society and the victim of violence.

What issues have you learnt about regarding single women through WHR?
In WHR , we get to hear about various problems of single women based on property rights, legal issues and so on. Our nation  has not implemented any proper action against violation of single women’s human rights. Even government shows gender biasness when it comes to such issues. There are fundamental rights and human rights for women, but due the patriarchal society women are still silent and there is an invisible maskin their mouth. Its always women being a victim of Sex violence, harassments, etc whether it’s there home or public places.

How is the working environment in WHR?
The people at WHR are very fun and friendly. We often do a gathering once a week and if there’s anything problematic about the works we do, there are lots of experienced and helpful people ready to help us. The work or the program I enjoy the most participating in, is the fundraising programs that includes melas, fests, dance parties and so on. Honestly, I am really cherishing and enjoying every moment at WHR and I am still hopeful to learn more and experience more.

Nija, who believes that practical implementation of the theoretical knowlege is the main necessity for today’s day and time considers

Single Women: Life of Ignominy, Fighting for Equality

         -Pratiksha Rajopadhyaya [Youth wing member]

There’s a girl who is living her life happily, enjoying to the fullest, with her family and friends,  unknown of what life has to offer, excited about tomorrow. “You’ll get married someday and you will have a new home , a new family”, says her mother. “Your husband will protect you from all the problems in life like I do”, says her father. She is brought up with the hope of finding a ‘perfect guy ‘ , with the hope of starting her own family, with the hope that someone will accept her and shower her with all the happiness in the world. She’s happy and optimistic about her life.

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A successful Teej Celebration for Single Women!

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Teej, a festival where the color ‘red’ is the ultimate favorite! Single Women (widows) are restricted from the color and the festival. Single Women from WHR celebrated Teej on 22nd August, 2014 trying to break the social and cultural barriers. Single Women from nearby districts had come to enjoy and celebrate the day. The mela was a fun and exciting event with traditional Teej music. The dancing to the music was the ultimate highlight of the event. Apart from the good music, there were also many stalls with many items such as cosmetics, accessories, traditional clothes and products by single women home based workers. We also had a stall for ‘Opportunity fund’ where we collected donations for the flood victims at Sindhupalchowk. The fund collected from entry tickets was also accumulated for the flood victims. Everybody enjoyed the mela with good food, good music, shopping, and thankfully a good weather as well and more importantly everybody gave their share for a good cause. The Teej Mela was a very successful event leading to a smile on everyone’s faces at the end of the event.