A change maker's story
A group of a women in Community Discussion Centre (CDC)
Anita lives in Duduwa Rural Municipality ward no. 2 Betahani of Banke district in Nepal. She is 37 years old now, however, she was married off by her parents at a very young age of 12 years. Her husband did not care for her and married another woman, leaving Anita helpless. Eventually, she divorced her husband and came back to her parent’s home.
Life did not turn back to normal instantaneously. After returning to her home town, she faced many challenges and humilities from her relatives and community members. In her community, married daughters coming back to stay with the parents is always frowned upon. That let Anita feel mentally tortured.
Anita who was living in a pressurized environment was guided by Village Development Committee member Laxman Kewat to take part in sewing training. He convinced her parents for the same. She then, engaged herself in the nine-month long training which built her self-confidence. Because of the dedicated training, she became a sewing trainer for three months in another training organized by VDC. "She took sewing training very dedicatively; her interest and learning capacity was very high, so we selected her as the trainer in other such type of trainings” said VDC member Laxman.
Meanwhile, Oxfam in Nepal in partnership with Social Awar eness Concerened Centre (SAC) initiated Creating Spaces project to take action on violence against women and girls and child, early and forced marriage. The program activities were also introduced in Anita’s village. She took the opportunity to participate in a ward level gathering of the project. As a single woman who also experienced violence, she was encouraged to become one of the members of Community Discussion Center (CDC). Then she started attending CDC discussion classes. The CDC she attended was named ‘Gulab CDC’ which has around 27 members actively involved. The facilitator Sunita Ahir organized discussions thrice a week to explain about violence against women and girls, child early and forced marriage, women’s transformative leadership and other issues of violence faced by women and girls.
Initially, it was not easy to involve CDC members in a regular basis. However, after door to door campaign and advocacy, their regular presence with high interest were seen. Now, CDC members are aware about the information on violence against women and girls, child marriage and social crimes. Anita who had good sewing skills, thought to train other women members raising opportunity for them to earn. "After joining CDC, I have been transferring my skills to other members. We participate in different activities like advocacy for economic rights, being aware of violence against women and girls, discussion of women and girls’ issues in the CDC,” Anita said, “Regular discussions, interactions and knowledge of laws and life skills, supported me in gathering confidence to come out of the societal pressure".
Anita who dwelled in these issues for a long time, was very much interested to learn about sexuality and gender, work analysis of women and men, etc. She also supported different campaigns, workshops on access of economic rights of women. This enabled her to think about turning her own sewing skills into business.
With all the confidence, she managed to start a tailoring center in her community. She managed to save some money herself by providing trainings to five lots of sewing and cutting trainings for three months. As a qualified trainer, she started to train other interested women from her community with 500 Nepali rupees of monthly charge. This gave her the chance to earn for her survival and encourage other women like herself to be independent. Currently, she earns 12,000 Nepali rupees per month, which supports in her daily expenses without having to look for further financial support. She has registered her business as “Anita Silai Katai Prashikshan Kendra” in a small cottage industry office. With all the confidence, Anita has now submitted an application of Nepali rupees 1,20,000 to ward office to grant her the fund for a three-month long sewing and cutting training so that she can deliver her skills to other women in her community to make them economally empowered. She also has the plan to have a big tailor shop and training center through which she can make other women more skillful.
Anita is very happy with her work and continues to take part in discussions to encourage herself and others in various issues of violence against women and girls. She is considered as a Change Agent in her community.
Community discussion center has been established as the sharing and discussion forum in communities where issues like violence against women and girls, child forced and early marriages, harmful social norms, etc. are discussed. CDC members have been well informed on different laws and information on violence against women and girls, child forced and early marriage and other social issues and they are acting as the change agents in their communities.