RAP3 MHLR celebrated the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 at MHLR site offices as well as at Kathmandu. Rural women from various road building and maintenance groups, local officials, RAP3 MHLR field team and other stakeholders came together in various project districts: Mugu, Humla, Salyan and Surkhet to celebrate IWD 2021. In Mugu and Humla, more than 300 local women and men including local bodies and the project field staff joined the women’s rally to support the liberation of all women, their equal rights, gender equality and to stand for the IWD 2021 international theme, ‘Choose to Challenge’. There was a discussion with local women to raise awareness about preventing violence against women, increasing gender equality, women’s rights and the benefits of an equal society. Explaining the difference between before and after the project implementation, Mrs Susila Budha, a member of Local Road User Committee (LRUC) in Mugu, shared that earlier women could not go out the door but now women work outside with men, and men are also helping women on household chores. Similarly, Mrs Chuchhe Baduwal, LRUC of Panidhara, Mugu, spoke about the importance of eradicating the blind practices of “Chhaupadi” and “Chhaugoth”. She encouraged all women attending the event to fight bravely against every challenge they face in their community, as well as sharing the importance of being an independent woman. She also expressed her gratitude to RAP3 MHLR and PHASE Nepal for imparting education on menstrual hygiene in the rural communities of Mugu and Humla, and providing training on how to make reusable sanitary pads, which improved their health and sanitation in the village. Also, Bandana Aidi, Road Building Group (RBG) of Humla district shared that RAP3 MHLR hands out money directly into the hand of female workers which has helped them gain respect in their community and made men aware of the value of women empowerment. Maya Devi Shahi, another RBG from Humla shared that in the past, men were given leadership roles and they always had more opportunities. Now, women are gradually changing the scenario as they start doing various skilled jobs like dressing stones, filling gabion boxes and others. Similarly, other women from Salyan and Surkhet districts highlighted their success stories and the changes they have found after joining the project and also mentioned that they are fully committed to work for the growth of women in their community.
The event in all districts was concluded with local songs, dances, various games, refreshments and a meaningful discussion around how to end violence against women and girls, the future of women in society, and how RAP3 MHLR is helping to support women’s empowerment.