Celebrating women’s achievements in NepalApr 17, 2020
On December 6 and 7, the city of Janakpur, Nepal, participated in the WOW Madhesh edition of the Women of the World (WOW) festival.
The WOW Madhesh edition of the Women of the World festival is a global movement to celebrate women’s achievements.
The festival, organized by the British Council, focused on gender equality and social inclusion and, through workshops, panel discussions, multimedia, drama performances, and mentorship programs, addressed some of the common development issues faced by people in the region. Among the issues discussed were women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, menstrual health, and self-defense. The unique culture of the Mithila region contributed to the festival’s vibrancy.
Throughout the festival at Janaki Mandir, a Hindu temple in Janakpur, various organizations devoted to development in Nepal exhibited their work and shared their visions. People in Need (PIN) showcased the five-year Aarambha-Leave No Girl Behind project, funded with UK aid from the UK government Girls’ Education Challenge. Visitors to the PIN stall were eager to learn more about how the organization works and the projects PIN has undertaken in Nepal.
The PIN stall at Janaki Mandir was decorated with photographs that showed young girls and boys immersed in education. These images highlighted the main theme for the PIN exhibit: the importance of learning for girls who have gotten married as adolescents, during the years that they would normally be in school. The photographs also showcased the principle of equality, reflected in the happy faces of school girls and boys working and learning together. The images were especially well-received by married girls interested in an education to enhance their skills and bring about change in their communities.
“I had to compromise for the smallest of small matters; I really feel bad that young girls and boys are still compromising as I did,” said one 55-year old woman who visited the stall. “I am happy that you have a program for young daughters-in-law, to educate them and make them aware of the worldly ways. These daughters must be lucky. I also like the way you have decorated your (stall).”
After learning about the work that PIN is doing in schools, numerous girls and boys who visited the stall said they were segregated according to sex after fifth grade. “Since we are students at a renowned school, we were told by the teachers that we were segregated in order to enhance our concentration on our studies and prevent elopement,” said another visitor, a 16-year-old girl. “We feel this is good but sharing the classroom with boys would also be interesting.”
For PIN’s Nepal staff, the festival was an opportunity to have many meaningful discussions with people from Janakpur and other areas, and to explain the organization’s gender equality and education programming.
PIN also received positive feedback from government officials and representatives from non-governmental agencies, who were interested in extending these types of programs to other remote parts of the country. PIN was pleased to receive representatives from the British Council, DFID, the National Human Rights Commission, celebrities as well as teachers, students, and other civil-society actors. Events like the WOW festival help showcase progress being made at the grassroots level and encourage further positive societal change.