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Promoting women’s economic empowerment in rural Nepal: Mina’s story

Breaking gender stereotypes and caste-barriers, Mina Bardewa not only started earning a means of livelihood, but also boosted her self-confidence after she got an opportunity to work as part of the Road Maintenance Group (RMG) in Nepal.

Feature | 09 June 2017
Nuwakot, Nepal (ILO News) - Born into a marginalized community in Nepal, and later a single mother, Mina Bardewa breaks gender stereotypes and caste-barriers as a proud breadwinner.  

Mina, 35, has never been to school and got married when she was very young. She now has two adolescent daughters who are ten and twelve years old and one four-year-old son. Her hopes for a happy married life came crashing down when her then-husband left her for a younger woman.

Mina Bardewa, Road Maintenance Group (RMG) in Nuwakot, Nepal  @Yadav, Jitendra 
Mina despaired as she struggled with the responsibility of educating and providing for her three children and her mother-in-law.

However a ray of hope appeared when Mina spotted a vacancy for a position with the Road Maintenance Group (RMG), a group of local people tasked with carrying out routine and recurrent road maintenance. The RMG, run by the ILO, through the Strengthening National Rural Transport Programme (SNRTP), encourages applications from marginalized people. Mina applied, was invited for an interview and finally selected to be part of the RMG. 

With financial support from the World Bank, the ILO is giving technical support to the Strengthening National Rural Transport Programme (SNRTP), one of the largest infrastructure projects of the Government of Nepal. The programme provides employment opportunities to local workers, mainly women, coordinating it with financial institutions and service providers to offer road maintenance skills development training, and to help generate income.

“I was ecstatic that day because I saw hope for my three children, my mother-in-law and myself in this world,” said Mina

“Mina has become independent as she is financially supporting her family of five. She has also grown to be more confident after being associated with the RMG.” -  Sudarshana Shakya, District Road Maintenance Engineer

It has been a year since Mina became a member of the RMG. Her work with this group primarily involves maintaining the road networks, and can include cleaning drains or creating them, filling in potholes, or even helping cut and clear vegetation. She notes the difference in her life since she has been associated with the group. 

“I feel more confident now and can speak up for myself,” said Mina.

The District Road Maintenance Engineer in Nuwakot who works closely with Mina also echoes: “Mina has become independent as she is financially supporting her family of five. She has also grown to be more confident after being associated with the RMG.”

Mina is earning 11,300 Nepalese rupees (US$ 109) a month. This has not only made her feel self-assured, but also more accepted by her community. The same neighbours who before would shy away from helping her financially are more trusting of Mina now that she has a stable source of income. Her mother-in-law, who did not do any of the household chores before, has also started contributing more at home now that Mina goes to work.

Mina says that the quality of her life improved after she became a member of the RMG. With a secure source of income, she now knows that she can feed her family, send her children to school, and sustain her livelihood. She feels empowered.

“Being a part of the RMG is not only helping me earn a livelihood but also giving me the confidence I need to succeed in life.”

For further information please contact:

Mr Shailendra Kumar Jha
National Programme Coordinator
ILO Country Office for Nepal
Nayabato, Dhobighat, Lalitpur
Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel.: +977 1 5555 777, 5550 691
Fax: +977 1 5550 714