Today marks the Global Day of Parents – a day to celebrate families across the world. It also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible mums we work with. Many parents know all too well how difficult it is to juggle a career with childcare. We're working with Nepalese mums to address this issue.
ActionAid has been working in Nepal since 1982. We work alongside local people to support them in many ways, from responding in times of emergency such as the earthquakes in 2015, to child sponsorship and our global campaign to make cities safer for women.
Challenging the unequal burden of work
A key part of our work is helping communities to understand and recognise the important role that women play both inside and outside of the home, and setting up childcare centres across Nepal to help women balance work and motherhood.
The centre is like a blessing in disguise as now I can pursue my business, help both my children and have time for myself.
As in many places across the world, the women we've been working with in Nepal are responsible for looking after the children and running the household. This essential role is expected of women but isn't seen as important or valuable.
Running the household often means more than just domestic chores - it can involve farming to produce food for the family and travelling long distances to collect firewood and water - all with little or no support. Many women, like their husbands, will have jobs too but are still expected to juggle working alongside housework and looking after children.
ActionAid's childcare centres in urban and rural communities are vital in helping families share these responsibilities more equally, and give women more independence - women like Krishna.
Krishna is 31 years old and lives with her two daughters aged 10 and two in Chapagaon, Lalitpur District, near Kathmandu. Her husband is working abroad so she has to take care of the children and the home on her own. She also has a job as a street vendor to support the family. Her eldest daughter goes to school but with no childcare available, Krishna was forced to take her younger daughter to work.
Trying to serve customers whilst taking care of a small child was incredibly difficult so the community childcare centre set up in her village by ActionAid has been life-changing. Krishna says: "The centre is like a blessing in disguise as now I can pursue my business, help both my children and have time for myself."
Empowering women through childcare centres
The centres provide a safe space for children to learn and play and give mums more time to earn a living. Sanu (pictured below) is 20 years old and has a two-year-old daughter. Thanks to ActionAid’s support she has set up her own small business at a nearby pilgrimage and picnic spot.
"I used to knit woollen items and sell them in the local shop," Sanu says. "The money didn’t go far enough and I had to take a second job on a nearby construction site. After I had my baby, juggling between responsibilities was too challenging."
"When I heard of the centre, I sent my child there and set up my own stand," Sanu continues. "Now I am able to contribute some money to run the house. My baby has learnt to speak and also sings some rhymes; she gets complete care."
Having a job is more than just about earning money, it gives women a say over how the family income is spent and a chance to improve their standard of living.
When I heard of the centre, I sent my child there and set up my own stand. Now I am able to contribute some money to run the house.
The centres are also managed by women’s collectives (groups), which provides an opportunity to develop new leadership skills and helps make women more visible in society.
The centres have also improved older siblings’ access to education, especially for girls, as Malati, a member of a women’s group, explains: "There was irregularity in school attendance and the study of girls as they needed to take care of their siblings at home. But after the establishment of the childcare centres, girls have been attending school more regularly."
Want to find out more about the incredible women we work with?
Soroptimist International Oxford & District (SIOD) did just that! As a group committed to a world where women and girls achieve their potential and have an equal voice, they were keen to learn about ActionAid's work. So they invited ActionAid’s speaker network to talk at one of their club meetings and were so inspired they decided to fundraise for us.
Thanks to their generosity, ActionAid has built a brand new building for another childcare centre, pictured below, in Sudap Village, Terhathum District, in the eastern hills of Nepal. The mothers of Sudap village now have a place where they can leave their children meaning they too can earn an income and support their families.
Women’s work in and outside of the home is vital to the development and wellbeing of societies. We’re making sure that it is not only recognised but that women are given more opportunities to earn their own money to support their families.
If you are a part of a community group or club, like the Soroptimists, and would like to hear more about our work, we have a dedicated network of speakers who would love the opportunity to come and talk to you.
Photo credits: ActionAid Nepal