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Nepal is ranked 142nd out of 177 countries in the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI). It is a 'Least Developed Country', with unemployment as high as 46% and a female literacy rate of 53%. Evidence shows that regions in Nepal, which make significant investment in literacy and education, have rapidly improved HDI scores.
In these regions, under which the lower Solukhumbu (or Everest region) falls, schools are severely under resourced, teachers are poorly trained and not present throughout the school year, and school attendance and literacy rates of children are low. Girls in particular are often not supported to attend school and parents have less interest towards their children getting better education or may not be able to provide them with enough educational resources.
The 2015 earthquakes had a disastrous impact on the Solukhumbu district, where the program operates. The district covers an area of 3,312 km² and has a population of 105,886. The girls and women chosen for the vocational training project are from some of the worst earthquake affected communities of the lower Solukhumbu, and, for the most part, are those who have dropped out of high school and are therefore some of the most vulnerable in their communities.
This project aims to increase the capacity of disadvantaged young girls and women in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal to become trained workers, providing them with employable skills and the opportunity to be leaders within their communities. Through this training, it aims to help alleviate poverty, enable economic independence and help increase the self-esteem of vulnerable women and girls in the community. It also includes the opportunity of financial literacy training to ensure these women are well equipped to manage their own businesses and finances.
The training will provide skills in practical trades to enable them to find work in their communities and help them support themselves and their families. The areas of training are chosen by the women and girls involved, with a realistic view of what employment they would be able to gain or businesses they could start within their villages once they have completed their education.
The long-term program objectives include:
This independence fundamentally alters their lives and the lives of their children.
Through this project women in Nepal are moving mountains!
The project costs provide vocational training for identified women and girls from these remote mountain communities. This training also includes training in financial literacy and a 3-month mentoring opportunity.
Costs include fees for AHF’s community partner in Nepal to travel to the Everest region to identify training recipients, travel costs and fees for the trainers, relevant training materials, teaching aids and administration.
In 2016 the first cohort of young women were identified to be the recipients of the 3-month vocational training scholarships and this training commenced in August 2016. The girls chosen for these scholarships were, for the most part, those who were unable to continue attending school and were therefore some of the most vulnerable in their communities. This training provided skills in practical trades that will enable them to find work in their communities to help them support themselves and their families.
Most women chose to study sewing and tailoring, while others chose to study beautician courses and some engineering with Nepal in the midst of major reconstruction efforts post-earthquake. These particular courses were chosen by the women and girls involved, with a realistic view of what employment they would be able to gain or businesses they could easily start within their villages. Participants were therefore very empowered by the process and had a central role in the decision-making. The tailoring trainees learnt how to repair and produce garments, skills in cutting and measurement, the use of hand tools and sewing machines and garment stitching. The beautician course trained the participants in services that are offered in a simple village beauty parlour focusing on for weddings, traditional celebrations and major festivals. Courses were suited to both beginner and intermediate level and the aim of the courses was to train participants to become self reliant in setting up their own businesses in their village.
All of the women and young girls chosen for the vocational training scholarships completed the courses in December 2016. Two community based beauty parlors and five sewing centres have since been set up in local communities across the Lower Solukhumbu as independent businesses and there are several girls who are now planning to take advanced training in tailoring to expand their income generation opportunities. AHF is keen to explore the potential for the sewing centres to manage the production of school uniforms for the 550 AHF Scholarship students in the region, which would help to guarantee the sustainability of these new businesses.
A few of the young girls trained as sub-engineers and have now been employed by the AHF on our school construction sites as part of AHF’s ‘Rebuild Nepal’ program. This program aims to rebuild approximately 100 schools damaged or destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes.
This project complements the existing AHF’s Teacher Training & Quality Education (TTQE) program in Nepal; providing vocational opportunities for young women and girls to receive training in employable trades post-school. The overall goals of the TTQE program are that ‘children have better opportunities in life through inclusive, high quality education’ and ‘Nepal’s citizens achieve higher living standards and contribute to sustainable development of their country’.
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