Women for Human Rights in Nepal
by Susel Fagan – Mar 6, 2019
Each purchase of Global Family Farms Yacon syrup and all of our other products further benefit the people of Nepal through an organization that supports widowed single women in the country. Women for Human Rights (WHR) is a group for Nepali widows to gain access to support they are not provided elsewhere. Since 1994, it has offered help to women across Nepal, now 100,000 members strong.
In Nepal, in the past there was a great stigma against women who lost their husbands, with many believing a widow to be a sign of bad luck and the cause of death for her husband. Widowed women felt incredibly uncomfortable in public and were left without safe spaces to receive help, counseling, and other support. But Women for Human Rights has had a huge impact on this situation, although there is still progress to be made.
Only 11% of Nepali widows are literate, and of those only 2% are highly educated. This creates a serious barrier to them finding jobs to support themselves and their children, including moving to independent life easily. A widow also typically remains tied to supporting the family of her deceased husband, as they also struggle from the lack of income and support after his death.
WHR began as an informal gathering of these Nepali women, and the organization is now supported by both grassroots campaigns and national- and international-level partnerships such as UN Women. The organization seeks to educate women on the privileges they are entitled to, as well as advocate for women’s rights and empowerment across Nepal, South Asia, and the world.
The organization addresses the individual needs of widows, providing counseling, training in trade skills, education for their children, and help in securing land and property after a husband’s death. Most importantly for many of these single women, WHR provides a safe space for them to feel comfortable discussing their issues with other widows, without the fear of judgment.
WHR provides services like a credit program and an entrepreneur group that allow members to take out small loans to start their own businesses and begin making a livable income to continue to support their families on their own.
Members are also provided training in skills they can use to sustain a successful business, including livestock and agriculture farming, catering services, grocery shops, tailoring shops, boutiques, and driving services. The children of these women are offered school education through the WHR’s Opportunity Fund.
The only remaining barrier to the success of these Nepali women and their businesses stems from a lack of access to a larger market. Supporting the women of WHR through products from Global Family Farms provides that access, at an international level that allows their businesses to grow. Enabling these women to work and generate their own income is a sustainable model for their ongoing success—one which impacts not just these 100,000 women but their children, families, and entire community.