Women Awareness Center Nepal
Earthquake Relief Update
On April 25, 2015 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The earthquake had a devastating impact. On may 12th, 2015 a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck again while the country was still dealing with the tremors from the initial earthquake adding to the fatalities and casualties.
Community based development programs (CBDP) WACN
Nari Chetna Kendra Nepal, also known as Women’s Awareness Centre Nepal (WACN), was established in 1991 by a group of women interested in improving the socio-economic status and self-development capacity of disadvantaged people, particularly women and children. WACN strives to eliminate all forms of violence through action programs that address the root causes of development issues, mainly poverty and female subordination. Specifically, WACN helps rural women start savings and credit cooperatives, together with community-based development activities, to increase their social and economic power. The institutionalization of women informal savings and credit groups is one of WACN’s primary focuses. Assisted by WACN’s programs, rural women begin to take an active role in decision-making processes.
- To raise awareness of women’s and children's potential as powerful and dedicated members of society through gender-sensitive, community-based, development programs.
- To empower women and children economically and reduce poverty through savings and credit programs.
- To eliminate violence against women, including trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and superstitions.To create self-sustaining rural communities through the development of sustainable agriculture.
- To expand training and resource centers in their respective communities.
- Launching integrated community-based development programs and research.
- Promoting and institutionalizing savings and credit groups and cooperatives for the social and economic empowerment of women.
- Eliminating violence against women, including trafficking, domestic abuse, and sexual assault through a variety of programs.
- Preventing the exploitation of child labor.
- Implementing sustainable agriculture programs.
- Engaging in local and national advocacy for women’s rights and protection.
- Providing the space for women to work independently and to develop and run their own institutions.
- Developing training program and resource centers.
Community based development programs (CBDP)
A variety of development activities are carried out through WACN’s integrated Community-Based Development Program (CBDP), including school renovations, trail repairs, the promotion of alternative energy, the building of drinking water facilities and wells, the provision of scholarships for female children, and the launching of health awareness campaigns.
Women’s Savings and Credit Cooperatives
WACN encourages these informal groups of women to register as cooperatives, thereby allowing them to operate as a legal entity. The cooperatives then promote community development activities such as school renovations, trail repairs, the usage of alternative energy, the building of drinking water facilities and wells, the provision of scholarships for female children, and the launching of health awareness campaigns in addition to income generating activities such as livestock raising, organic farming, vegetable cultivation, and the opening of retail shops, to name a few.At present WACN has registered and developed 41 women’s savings and credit groups, establishing a base of more than 30,000 women members.
WACN works with children laboring in Brick Factories around the Kathmandu Valley. The children migrate with their parents 6 months out of a year to work in Brick Factories. The children aging from 6 to 15 work in dangerous, unsupervised conditions on extremely cheap wages. Consequently children drop out of school, face health problems and are live in poor conditions in mud huts. WACN identifies these children and provides alternative education so that the children become eligible to enroll back in school. WACN has launched programs targeting children for child development. Currently WACN has involved 5000 child members in the savings program.
WACN would like to implement more child-specific programs to address their emerging needs and include them in the economic and social empowerment processes of community development.
The establishment of training and resource center has made WACN a leader in the field of community development and savings and credit schemes. WACN offers trainings in cooperative management, leadership, agriculture, and gender development to community leaders, NGO employees and other grassroots workers.
To commercialize agriculture, trainings are provided on a regular basis. Not only does the program encourage women to take a more active role in agriculture, it also attracts men interested in improving their farming techniques, providing a space for women and men to work together. After participating in the program, some women farmers have begun their own commercial vegetable productions. Gender roles in the family and community are starting to change as women become successful entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry.
WACN is involved in advocacy activities at local, national and international levels. Women from project areas perform advocacy work on their own protesting violence against women. Women have also taken advantage of government allocated funds. WACN has organized and participated in demonstrations with other women’s NGO’s on a variety of women rights issues including women’s property rights, abortion rights, gender equality, and food security.
WACN collaborates with the women’s cooperatives and other local organizations on a variety of projects. Building community centers is an excellent example of their joint efforts. Following the establishment of their cooperatives, several groups identified a need for a community center in their VDC. The following model has been developed to help build these centers. Local organizations (schools, municipalities and VDCs) donate land, which is then held in WACN name. WACN provides grants to the groups for the construction of the building. To date, 16 community centers have been built, in addition to a training and resource center in Kathmandu.
Nari Chetna Kendra has published four books and documents on women's issues. These publications help women to understand their own contribution, capacity and power to effect change as well as sensitizing others to women’s situation in Nepal. The proceeds from the sale of these books fund Nari Chetna Kendra’s programs.
WACN works in a sustainable way through the determination and commitment of hundreds of thousands of community members, 200 grassroots resource persons, 13 board members, and 12 staff. WACN’s success is due to the strategic planning, vision, and passion of its staff and members. Its community-based model builds the knowledge and skills of community members, enabling them to engage in development work on their own.
Where WACN was once initiating development work, the community members are now using WACN's methods to execute their own development activities. WACN's model has been replicated by other organizations because of its affordability to poor women.
WACN is now recognized nationally and internationally as a cost-effective and sustainable organization that reaches from the grassroots to assist women in achieving socio-economic independence and empowerment.
With a focus on human resource development women learn to work in an autonomous and sustained manner.
Nepal is currently facing many political and socio-economic challenges. WACN feels that there is great need to expand this type of community-based program in its fight against poverty. With three to five years of focused programs and follow-up, marginalized groups become financially and socially independent. In this context, we find it imperative to continue introducing community based activities and cooperatives into new VDCs and districts as well as helping existing women’s groups institutionalizing their operations for greater impact. Only through local development do we see the potential for peace in our country.