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Contribute to gender equality initiatives through an internship in Nepal

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: June 30, 2022

Gender inequality permeates marriages, property ownership, and job opportunities. Joining a women’s empowerment internship is one way you can help contribute to reaching greater gender equality in this Himalayan nation. 

Travelling to Nepal is a journey into high mountains, medieval cities, and sacred sites. 

In this land of legendary culture and unparalleled adventure, you can discover not only the Himalayas and all the marvels they cradle in their rocky range, but also the possibility of a career in women’s empowerment. By joining a GVI internship in Nepal, you can contribute to initiatives supporting gender equality

During your internship, you’ll see firsthand that supporting the empowerment of women is crucial not only for improving the lives of women and girls, but also for enabling the long-term wellbeing of entire communities. 

Here’s why you should consider joining a women’s empowerment internship in Nepal.


Nepal’s ongoing struggle for gender equality



Although poverty in Nepal is decreasing, the country is still a long way from achieving gender equality.

A report on the progress of women’s rights in Nepal by UN Women Nepal reveals that child marriage remains widespread. Families arrange marriages for girls, and 37% of girls are married before the age of 18, with 10% married before the age of 15. 

Being married young means girls have children at a young age, leading to disparities in the workplace. Women carry out an average of 11.87 hours of unpaid domestic work per day – which isn’t included in the national GDP, devaluing women’s contributions – which means many are excluded from having jobs that can secure them independent income. Only 26.3% of women are in the workforce, according to the report

Stigmatisation of menstruation is another barrier for girls, with 89% of adolescent girls still facing discrimination, the report says. This discriminiation continues to include Chhaupadi, despite the practice being criminalised. Chhaupadi forbids women and girls from staying inside their homes, or taking part in daily activities, while menstruating.

Empowering women through education projects is one important way these challenges can be addressed, and women given more control over their own lives.


How can women’s empowerment projects help?



Helping women to empower themselves means providing the education and support they need to become economically independent and increase their status in their community. Education means more work opportunities, and gradual shifts in societal expectations and behaviour. This in turn enables women to make active contributions to their communities, which has a positive ripple effect. 

Economically empowered women mean more children can stay in school, households have higher incomes and more families are raised out of poverty, which improves the overall wellbeing of communities. 

Workshops and classes, like those provided by GVI in Nepal, give women access to crucial education opportunities. 

During your internship, you can contribute to women’s empowerment in a variety of ways. As well as contributing to literacy, numeracy, and life skills workshops for girls at a local school, you can contribute to professional skills development classes and conversational English classes with local women. The women are dedicated students, and the classes also help to provide a space where they can find social support. 

By taking part in these initiatives, you’ll gain valuable career experience in planning and delivering workshops, as well as a deeper understanding of actionable ways to support gender equality. 


The fight against human trafficking



Fighting human trafficking is another significant element of a women’s empowerment internship in Nepal.

After the 2015 earthquake which killed 9,000 people and sank many more into destitution, human trafficking in Nepal increased sharply. 

Thousands of women and girls are trafficked by strangers and families alike each year. Many are trafficked for sexual exploitation, but others experience foced labour in sweatshops, circuses, or in industries like construction. 

Girls and women with limited economic opportunities are among the most vulnerable to human trafficking. As such, educating people about human trafficking is an important aspect of gender equality.

GVI works closely with Samrakshak Samuha Nepal (SASANE), a social justice organisation born out of the need to protect and empower female survivors of human trafficking. Through activities that include investigations, legal battles, and helpline services, SASANE safeguards women from social abuse and forced prostitution.

As an intern, you will have the opportunity to work with SASANE to spread awareness about the prevalance of human trafficking. This can help local communities develop more resilience to the practice. 

Gaining experience with SASANE can support your career in a number of ways; you’ll see how effective social justice organisations can be, see the job opportunities within this field, and network with people effecting real change. Although projects with SASANE deal with serious issues, the work can be deeply inspiring and help you better shape your direction and purpose. 


Discover the wonders of Nepal



As well as being an exciting place to develop your career in social justice and women’s empowerment, Nepal is a thrilling travel destination. 

During your internship, you can immerse yourself in Nepali culture and experience day-to-day life in Pokhara at homestay-style accommodation. Located on the edge of idyllic Lake Phewa in Pokhara, each day you’ll have your breath taken away by views of the snow-capped mountains across the water. 

Nepal is an adventure lover’s dream. For a dose of adrenaline, try your hand at paragliding, swinging through the air with arguably the best views of the region. Explore the roaring white-water rivers nearby on a rafting trip. Or, take advantage of the fact that Pokhara is the gateway to the famous Annapurna Circuit – for the ultimate Nepal experience, go on the trekking adventure of a lifetime through the soaring mountain peaks. 

If you prefer a more sedate pace of travel, you can experience traditional mountain life, see centuries-old monasteries, and wander awestruck through palaces and temples. 

Nepal will challenge, delight, and surprise you. Combined with an internship where you have a chance to make a real difference in people’s lives, this might be the greatest trip you ever take. 

Explore GVI’s women’s empowerment projects and start contributing to creating a more gender equal world today. 

Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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