Indigenous women as change agents in Himalaya foothills of Nepal

For Nepal's Chepang people, an indigenous group living in the Himalaya foothills, poverty and marginalization remain a daily reality. Chepang women are further marginalized by lower literacy rates, lack of access to health services, and scarce economic and political influence in a traditionally male-dominated environment. This is why UNDEF funds a project implemented by Development Exchange Centre Nepal, a local NGO, to empower Chepang women to become change agents in local governance processes, promoting pro-poor and gender responsive decision-making. By equipping them with leadership, networking and advocacy skills, they are being encouraged to play a part in local governance. The project is establishing a network of Chepang women resource persons trained in social accountability tools and leadership. They are also setting up discussion fora in their respective villages and organize awareness-raising events for local government, NGOs and media on the development challenges facing the Chepang communities. Community radio is being used to express the concerns raised during the fora meetings, expand outreach, and strengthen government accountability.