In Nepal, the small country wedged between China and India where tropical landscapes co-exist with snow-capped peaks, the birth of a girl is often seen as a misfortune. This is one of the few places in the world where the life expectancy of women is lower than that of men, and where the education gap between girls and boys is still over 10%.
This reality is even more striking in rural areas and in the mountains, where communities are situated far from each other. This is the case in Gatlang, a small village north of Kathmandu that is 2,000 meters above sea level. The Swiss association Norlha discovered an astonishing phenomenon: women were being “left behind” alone as the heads of households.
In an effort to escape poverty and maintain their survival, men are crossing the borders to work in India, the Gulf countries, or Malaysia, often in dangerous conditions.
The women are thus left behind to manage everything alone, toiling up to 16 hours per day at both household tasks and agricultural work. Even when they receive money from their expatriate husbands, they spend it immediately on consumer goods. Lacking an education, they have no knowledge of how to invest it or save part of it. For this reason, the Norlha association’s project came into being, in partnership with the Elle Foundation, with the aim of helping the countrywomen of the Himalayas to better manage their resources and invest in equipment to lighten their workload and increase their income.
The Elle Foundation has decided to make a three-year commitment to this Nepal project, ialongside Norlha, to help improve the everyday life of these isolated women, who must work tirelessly in an effort to keep their holdings.