Enabling young girls in Nepal to promote quality of life

Nepal is a small country in Asia and home to many of the world’s most famous mountains. However, it’s also among the world’s top ten poorest countries. Approximately 40% live below the poverty line and 47% of the population is unemployed.

  • Published: 19. November 2021
  • By: Sebastian Eidem, Chief Communication Officer at Data Respons
Children in the streets of Nepal

In addition to struggling with challenging economic situation Nepal also struggles with a traditional and conservative patriarchal norm its associated gender inequality. Poverty, discrimination, menstruation taboo, child marriage and trafficking are factors that make life especially hard for young Nepalese girls. Helping Nepalese communities and young girls to break negative social structures and reduce ignorance have been and still is a Data Respons commitment.

Fighting trafficking of young girls has  been a key mission for the Swedish NGO “The Society for Street Children in Nepal (Gatubarn i Nepal)”, where Ylva Lilja, who works in the Data Respons’ subsidiary Sylog, is the chairperson.

Selling their daughters to traffickers is unfortunately one way to mitigate severe poverty for those at the bottom of the Nepalese society.

The NGO, Friends of Nepal, estimates that that between 12,000 to 15,000 girls between ages 6 to 16 are trafficked each year from Nepal to India. More than 250,000 Nepali girls are forced into the Indian sex trade.

Furthermore, Friends of Nepal reports that up to 7,000 girls from rural areas are brought as domestic slaves to Kathmandu city, where sexual abuse is common. More than 100,000 children have been forced to leave their villages and 10,000 children have been orphaned as a result of the 12 year long civil war in Nepal.

However, trafficking is just one factor in the Nepalese society that makes it tough for young girls to achieve any social mobility.

Key facts about Nepal:

According to the World Economic Forum, the 2018 Global Gender Index revealed that Nepal ranks 105th out of 144 countries on gender parity. The index measures reproductive health, empowerment, and economic status. The relatively low ranking testifies to UNESCO’s assessment that some of the key reasons adolescent girls and young women are restricted from accessing education are child marriage and early pregnancy, gender-based violence, lack of knowledge or access to proper hygiene facilities such as water, sanitation, and hygiene.

As with many poor countries the countryside is home to the biggest challenges. In Nepal’s rural communities, parents often choose marriage for girls because, once married, daughters customarily leave their homes to enter into their husbands’ household and cannot financially support their parents like their sons. It leads families to prioritize education and even basic survival needs, such as food, for boys over girls, which is one of the reasons why child brides and their children are more likely to be malnourished[1].

New data suggest Covid has made the situation even worse for Nepalese women[2]. Women and girls in particular face a greater risk from this pandemic, as they are systematically disadvantaged and often suppressed by poverty, violence, inequality, and marginalization.

Hence it goes without saying that organisations like Street Children in Nepal are needed to help change things around. In the least year, Data Respons has supported Street Children in Nepal in their endeavour to widen their operation from running orphanages to focus to educating girls and make villages self-supported. By educating young Nepalese girls they are enabled to play a role in changing the Nepalese society themselves.

There is still a long way to go in order to make changes that will have a lasting impact, but Street Children in Nepal, and Data Respons believe that a more promising future starts by enabling the young.

Street Children in Nepal accomplishments:

  • 15 educated nurses, health assistants and skilled birth attendants educated
  • 4 students still in education at Medical College.
  • 4 other university students, 2 future social workers, 1 in IT, 1 engineer.
  • 20 school children provided for in orphanages.
  • 24 children in families receive help with schooling.
  • 18 children in slum areas receive both school and support.
  • Nearly 3,500 people, mostly young children and mothers have received food and medicines through special pandemic interventions.