Nepal: Solukhumbu Women’s Hostel /Shelter for Higher Secondary Education Project Description
According to the United Nations Development Programme, The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the most broadly supported, comprehensive and specific development goals the world has ever agreed upon. These eight time-bound goals provide concrete, numerical benchmarks for tackling extreme poverty in its many dimensions. They include goals and targets on income, poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, environmental degradation and the Global Partnership for Development.
Adopted by world leaders in the year 2000 and set to be achieved by 2015, the MDGs are both global and local, tailored by each country to suit specific development needs. They provide a framework for the entire international community to work together towards a common end – making sure that human development reaches everyone, everywhere. If these goals are achieved, world poverty will be cut by half, tens of millions of lives will be saved, and billions more people will have the opportunity to benefit from the global economy.
The eight MDGs are:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve Maternal Health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a Global Partnership for Development
While progress on the MDGs in Nepal has been good, there is still much work to be done, particularly surrounding the point of gender equality. In Nepal, girls’ enrollment in school is approaching the same levels as the rate for boys – 95 girls for every 100 boys now enroll in primary school. An effective quota-system in 2008 elections brought in over 33 percent of women in the Constituent Assembly. The Civil Service Act 2008 also called for larger representation of excluded groups, including women. However, according to Nepal’s Ministry of Education, the literacy rate for females stands at just 44.2 percent as opposed to 67.7 percent for males. In addition, women’s low status in the control of resources and political decision making remains, as does high incidence of violence against women (including early marriage and sex selective abortions).
In November 2010, Edge of Seven will team up with a local non-government organization (NGO) in the Everest region of Nepal to tackle the development goal surrounding women’s empowerment. As a nonprofit in the field of international development, we are committed to supporting the goals and targets. In addition, we support advocates of global social change who believe that investment in poor women is the best strategy to end global poverty. Mary Ellen Iskenderian, the President and CEO of the Women’s World Bank, contends that “when women [in developing countries] have money they invest it more wisely then men. Women spend their money on nutritious food, schooling for their kids, health care, improving their homes. That has a positive ripple effect on the community, both economically and socially.”
Edge of Seven will focus our volunteer efforts in Salleri, the district headquarters of the Solukhumbu district (Everest region). Though national data suggests that girls’ enrollment in school is approaching the same levels as the rate for boys – 95 girls for every 100 boys now enroll in primary school, it is not progressed to that healthy average in many districts. In Solukhumbu, our local partner conducted a field survey in 2006 and found that in many parts girls’ enrollment in primary school is 30 girls for every 100 boys. The primary factor contributing to this statistic was illiterate and uneducated parents.
To address this problem, our local partner introduced adult literacy classes for women believing that if mothers understand the value of education, they will be more likely to enroll their daughters in school at a young age. After three years of implementation with adult literacy courses and vocational training for mothers, our local partner surveyed the same region and found that the ratio had increased from 30 to 45 girls for every 100 boys enrolled in primary school. We are thrilled that the ratio at the primary level is increasing and now, we would like to tackle statistics at the higher secondary level.
In the Solukhumbu region, after graduating from grade 10, students need to travel to Salleri or the capital city of Kathmandu to pursue higher secondary education. Solukhumbu is a mountainous region with difficult topography so for many villagers to get Salleri, they must walk anywhere from one day three days to reach the district headquarters. As a result, more than 50% of the female students that make it to grade 10 drop out because they come from rural areas and they cannot find safe and affordable housing in town. To address this issue, we are building a women’s hostel in Salleri that will house at least 50 female students. Our local partner recognizes the serious interest by women to continue their studies because for most, education is just a dream. By providing an opportunity for further education, we seek to arm these women with the skills and confidence to transform their position within the household and community.