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An Overview of the Capacity Building Training for Conflict Victim Single Women

Organised by Women for Human Rights (WHR)

4-5 July 2009, Malekhu, Dhading

Samira Paudel

The Women for Human Rights (WHR) with the cooperation of FES organized two days capacity building training for Conflict victim Single women in Malekhu, Dhading on 4-5 July 2009. There were altogether 40 participants from 10 Single women group and from 9 Village Development Committee (VDC) like Jogimara, Benighat, Gajuri, Pida, Nilkantha, Muralibhanjyang, Nalang, Sankosh and sunaulobajar.

The WHR, a non governmental organization, which was established in 1994, had a mission to empower conflict victim Single Women politically, economically and socially so that they can fully enjoy the value of their human right and human dignity. The WHR has expanded its network to 225 groups in 52 districts until now with a membership base of over 44,000 and has constructed resting places and houses for their collective upliftment. This is the follow-up of FES activities since almost a decade.

The program in Dhading started with an informal inauguration and then with the introduction of participants their backgrounds and their difficulties. All participants were single women (Widows). Some of the participants didn't even know how to introduce themselves as few of them were little educated and most of them were totally illiterate. Many of them were participating in such activity for the first time and were curious to know about the contents. The first day almost end up with the sharing's and expectations of their problems and other terrific stories of women in that locality.

Being half of the country's population, the situation of women is still very worst in many of the rural areas, disorganized and inarticulate. Among women, single women (Widows) who had lost their husband had to face even worst situation in their family and also in their society due to the social stigma attached to widowhood. Even if little change has taken place comparing to the past, it still needs lot of time to totally change the deep rooted existing structure. Among those single women there were some very young women whose husband were dead and had to spend the rest of the life in darkness deprived of any public role. There was a participant who even tried to kill herself due to the intolerance of the blames and troubles she had to face after her husband's death. The participants also shared a dreadful story of 102 old women who was raped by two young Dalit boys as a result she had to suffer very hard in spite of her old age. The problems of these women were so throbbing, that they were blaming the powerful women politicians who listen to their story with such big interest and then later on back to their normal life forgetting everything and doing nothing in reality.

While collecting the expectation of the single women, most of them who came from the remote areas asked to provide the household education where all housewives get everyday classes in their leisure time. The expectations collected are listed below:
1. Household education
2. Awareness for their rights/facilities
3. Series of training for Single Women
4. Information/Instruction on Single women group formation and the task of the group
5. Learning and teaching process, linking in groups and building solidarity networks,
6. Saving-credit program
7. To share/learn about the legal rights of single women and their contribution to peace building.

After the lunch break, there was a group work. All single women gathered in their own group and listed down their group activities like, how many members are there in their group, what is the progress of their group, what have they done until now and what were the problems they had to face until now. After the group work, one of the members did the presentation which was quiet fruitful. This is also one of the reasons to build up the confidence of the single women, who never had an opportunity to speak in public and express their intelligence. Some didn't even spoke at all when they came in the front and some tried to speak a bit of some words and some were smart enough for a good presentation and highlighted how they can participate in public sphere.

Likewise, the other day also went well with some formal and informal activities. Everyone started the program with dancing and singing as a warm welcome to each other, which brought so much of joy in everyone's face. The second day was the full training day for the participants on different aspects including capacity building through networks, knowledge and institutional means.

The WHR facilitators focused on the social and legal aspect of group formation and the techniques for running the group. The day went up with the mixture of training, information, awareness, sharing and active participation of participants in defining their vision, mustering resources and engagement in collective action. There were also group works on how can they run their group so that it brings out positive results.

The two day training was a good idea to draw lot of attention on the participant's day to day problems and how they can gather in a group to fight for their rights and do the collective bargaining. The program also focused on bringing the single women in the mainstream of politics indirectly. Such programs also build up their self-confidence and empower them to some extent as they found their linkage with national NGO - the WHR and international foundation - Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

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