Women’s rights and gender equality is something I can say I am proud to have experienced throughout my childhood and in adolescence. As the eldest of two, my sibling being a brother and growing up in Europe, I can honestly say that I was brought up under the same values and considerations irrespective of my gender. I followed the path of higher education, was able to pursue my career goals, travel the world solo whenever I please and quite simply put, do not have to fear for my life simply because I am female.
In many countries however women and especially young girls are treated unequal to their male counterparts. In Nepal arranged marriages to girls under the age of 18 are still common. They are especially vulnerable and at risk of sexual exploitation in remote villages, where education and running water and sewerage infrastructure is inaccessible. Human trafficking is a reality in Nepal and an average of 54 children go missing every day, as they are sold to the highest bidder across the globe.
In Pokhara I have joined Global Vision International, Nepal to support a project focused on women’s empowerment. Among health workshops and offering a place for women to meet and exchange views and ideas, my involvement here is teaching English. The levels range from illiteracy to advanced and as the hour progresses, so does their self worth and confidence.
Over the recent weeks, volunteers from around the world have set up a just giving page to collect money in order to support a further initiative I believe can be the foundation for a sustainable development program to help fight human trafficking in this region.
Women, who have escaped human trafficking and suffered great lengths are being educated and trained for the hospitality and tourism industry through an organisation local to Pokhara (SASANE). They are collaborating with locals and are in the process of training women to become trekking guides, as they are generally very strong from the hard physical labour they have been used to and are familiar with the surrounding region of the Annapurna. If continued training and supply of trekking equipment can be supported, these women could become true role models for young girls in remote villages, take sustainable and ethical tourism to some of these places and continue to educate people on the vulnerability of these communities.
This project is still in its early stages and as with everything in Nepal, patience is key. Nevertheless, I will be completing all my treks in the name of SASANE and hope to raise awareness and some extra cash to continue on from these initial first steps.
Please check out the just giving page GVI has set up and support this life changing initiative. Thank you.