The development of both the marginilised groups and minorities in Nepal has been one of the main priorities of the government. The government is therefore implementing various activities that are aiming to focus on minorities including women, poorer populations , the Dalit in all the countries’ 75 districts. There are NGO’s actively addressing the issues faced by these groups such as child marriage, domestic violence and untouchability practices are common in the Dhanusha and Mahottari district. In addition, the government has made some provisions focused on the Madhesi (Dalit) community. However, even though the government is starting to step in, the Madhesi Dalit women and children are still far behind to benefit from the developments as they are not able to improve their living standard due to the lack of education and access to resources.
Vulnerably positioned at the bottom of Nepal’s caste, class and gender hierarchies, (Dalit) women experience widespread and deeply-rooted gender as well as caste discrimination and violence due to imbalanced social, economic and political power equations.
Therefore, the project “Fight Discrimination, Equal Rights for All” aims to address the discriminatory problems faced by the Dalit minorities. The project helps to empower the poor and minorities to claim their rights and to stop child marriage and untouchability practices through human rights awareness and legal literacy training.
From January until March 2014, six human rights watch groups were established to monitor the cases of child marriages, domestic violence (against women) and the untouchability practices. The watch groups will also organise counseling and help the victims with legal action. Furthermore, Village Development Foundation (VDF) has also conducted field work to collect data regarding these issues which will be shared with stakeholders of the Village Development Committees (VDC) where the project is running.
In order to raise awareness and to inform local bodies and stakeholders, an introductory workshop was organised in each VDC. Among the participants were local political leaders, stakeholders, representatives of women and Dalit society.
As a part of this project and to create a bigger outreach, International Women’s Day and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination were celebrated as well. This day provided a forum for people to share their feelings, experiences, ideas to be able to fight any form of discrimination and to build community cohesiveness. VDF has been able to bring all the stakeholders of the project to one place where they can share ideas and prepare a common strategy to eliminate cast and gender based discrimination.