Building on
Building on

The literacy classes are more than just literacy classes. For these women these evening classes are what they look forward to with great anticipation. They give them confidence and an identity and act as stepping stones and hope to a new life.

Currently there are 297 women engaged in the Continue Education programme implemented by the partnership between Isai Samaj Nawalparasi (ISN) and UMN. ISN run eight self-reliant groups in northern Nawalparasi.
Through these classes the women not only learn to read and write, but also to build a better life for themselves and their family, learn new skills, earn a living, improve the health of the family and lead a confident, fulfilled life.


Yamuna Magar (left), a mother of two, was married off at an early age and after that she says she only saw poverty and struggle. Her husband was the only bread winner of the family, and with no skills or education Yamuna couldn’t do much to help the situation.
Her opportunity came when UMN’s partner Isai Samaj Nawalparasi (ISN) provided literacy training for 16 women like herself in her village. She was eager to learn and looked forward to the classes that ran in the evenings, and was quickly able to learn to read and write. After three months of the functional literacy classes Yamuna was also finally able to join the cooperative group. She had previously been unable to join as the local cooperative did not take women who were illiterate and unable to sign their name. The group used to meet frequently and share common problems and issues of the community. ISN organised bag-weaving and soap-making training for the women in the group. At the workshop, she quickly learnt the skill and started to actually sell the beautiful bags she made.
Yamuna is not only able to read, write, weave and save a little amount every month but, is also able to visit other group members’ houses and confidently motivate them.

A year ago UMN started the Community Empowerment Centres (CEC) in four of its clusters: Doti, Bajhang, Rukum and Dhading. Women from the community come together to learn and share on topics which help them to regain their security, dignity and enhance their capacity.

Susan Parajuli, Livelihoods Programme Manager of UMN has been working closely with these CEC groups. He says: “It has been an exciting process, to be part of the setup of these centres and to see the overwhelming participation of their members. It is through their own sharing and discussions that they learn about some important issues. For example, women now understand the importance of a marriage certificate. This equips them to claim any legal compensatory provisions if their husband brings another wife.”
Women at the centre learn to speak out, raise questions and voice their opinions. This is such an incredible transformation for these women who would otherwise just be expected to stay indoors and whose opinions and existence are sadly never counted.

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