From new business opportunities to women’s empowerment and sustainable natural resource management: A journey across Nepali good practices

From new business opportunities to women’s empowerment and sustainable natural resource management: A journey across Nepali good practices

By Tanya Lutvey, PROCASUR;

In December 2014, 20 participants from 9 countries, and PROCASUR's team traveled across Nepal for 8 days. With the crucial support of the  hosts - the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme (LFLP), the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), and the Nepal Agricultural Co-operative Central Federation Ltd (NACCFL) – as well as the technical support garnered from the IFAD Gender Desk during the design, implementation and follow up of the Learning Route (LR), participants learnt of experiences in the districts of Chitwan and Kapilvastu, which are successfully generating new income-generating opportunities through women-led Private-Public Producers Partnerships (4Ps).

The eager practitioners had the opportunity to experience how the leadership role of women in the establishment and management of 4P's including Saving and Credit Groups (SCGs), as well as the involvement of Dalit, Janajati and other socially marginalised groups, have been crucial factors in their success; these Nepali women have gained increased recognition and respect at community level, mainly through their role in household decision-making and their improved position as SCGs leaders.

Our adventure was kicked off in Kathmandu, by WOCAN representative Dibya Gurung who gave us the ins and outs of the present situation for Nepali women ‘an invisible force to be reckoned with’. According to Ms Gurung, increased opportunities in income generation has given more opportunities for rural women in Nepal (75% of Nepali women are engaged in agricultural activities) while men’s support of women’s leadership is increasing, particularly among younger husbands and male youths providing an opportunity to encourage women’s advancement as leaders in the community and the family.

Eight days later, after various field visits to the host communities of Bijuwa, Devitar and Khaireni Parsha, group discussions and analyses the participants were able to glean a number of meaningful lessons under three interconnected areas of learning, including; gender equality and women’s empowerment, rural institutions and natural resource management. Aside from the structured learning, participants were able to engage with ideas and strategize in an informal setting – a regular (and necessary) ingredient in the LR recipe.

Andrew Mwaura from the Department of Social Development, Kenya, shared his learning with the group; ‘Social mobilisation has been the biggest key for the successes we have seen. They (social mobilisers) need to be the female members of the household. Even after the project is over, the social mobiliser will still be there, in the field. That is how we trigger motivation.’ Ripa Shanjida from Bangladesh added; 'if you have an educated mother you have an educated nation'.

The Learning Route was concluded with the sharing of proposed Innovation Plans by the participants grouped by projects, country groups or individually. Each group/individual prepared an action plan based on the lessons learned from the three host cases during the eight day Learning Route journey. Of the 20 participants, 11 action plans for either women-led businesses or woman-focussed community organisations were presented on a wide range of topics including fruit preservation, organic honey production, empowering pastoralist women in decision making bodies and saving and credit groups for women. Participants were able to leave the LR with the constructive guidance necessary to finalise their plans in consultation with their own organisations. Participants had until January 15th to submit their finalised Innovation Plans in order to take part in a contest that will award the top 5 plans with $2500 USD in start-up capital. Watch this space for announcement of the winners!
Oh, and our Learning Route was packed so full of excitement that our closing ceremony was held on the tarmac of Bijuwa Airport! In keeping with the Learning Route spirit, it was excitement down to the very last minute! For more insights and learning route contents please visit:

 More blogs on the Learning Route to come!