In the year since Nepal’s devastating earthquake that killed more than 9,000 and destroyed nearly a million homes, Nepalese women have taken a leadership role in helping to clear debris, rebuild communities, and return to work and school. The United Nations estimates that more than a quarter of Nepali households, about 318,000, are headed by women, since many men leave the country in search of work. After the earthquake, Oxfam America set up a Cash for Work program that paid higher wages than many women were used to earning in the Nepali marketplace for services like debris cleaning, trail repair, and the construction of water and irrigation systems. Nearly 50 percent of the program’s participants were women.
Since women own only 19 percent of housing and land in Nepal, the Oxfam program also ensured that women were not left out of the economic recovery, particularly vulnerable women including the elderly, those suffering from HIV/AIDS or handicaps, and windows and single women. They opened eight women’s centers to offer legal and psychological counseling, private bathing and bathroom spaces, and “dignity kits” including underwear and sanitary napkins.
The program helped 14,000 families earn money in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and quickly start the country’s rebuilding process.
Read more at Oxfam America.