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Mahila Avaz – Women’s Voice

We aid to help

Since 2018, women, girls and their children find refuge and protection in our women centre from banning as well as physical and sexual violence in a strongly patriarchal society. .Cultural oppression, limited access to education, early marriage, and labour exploitation are daily struggles of females in Humla. Especially banning is a regular risk to health. These conditions are addressed by Mahila Avaz – Women’s Voice.
The goal of the women centre is to offer more than protection in acute situations but to bring sustainable improvements for women in the society overall and reduce their dependency on male family members. A variety of programs equip women with knowledge and skills, which serve the beneficiaries in advocating and demanding for an end to violence, oppression, and banning. Empowerment does not mean to let others improve one’s life. It means to gain the liberty to change one’s life on her or his own. This is the only way intrinsic structures of a society will truly change for the better. Hence, the approach ‘help for self-help’ became our manual for the project in Humla.



Experts about their own way of life

We believe that the people concerned for this project know their needs better than anyone else. This is why we include women, children and their community actively into the planning process of the project. All our programs were designed and continuously developed by the target group itself – facilitating acceptance and ownership over the project by the entire society. This guarantees sustainable change.


Creating awareness – advocating for rights

Through our ‘women’s groups’ females in Humla learn about their rights in regards to a life free of violence, (sexual) self-determination, education, good health care, and a home.
Furthermore, the discussions in the group sessions suppose to reveal the interrelations between the women, their resources and their opportunities to actively bring about improvements into their lives. Due to the group meetings, women build a social network, gain self-confidence and learn to act as more independent individuals. Mahila Avaz also trains a few women to official speakers at community meetings, what gives women a chance to voice their concerns equally in the society. Such equity was prohibited for women until the beginning of the Mahila Avaz project. In the health groups, topics such as the menstruation cycle are discussed. In relation to the women’s period, they learn how to sew sanitary pads made of old cloth to improve their hygiene during their period. Consequently, Chhaupadi restrictions were eased and first women were allowed to stay at home over night.
And the men? Men are welcomed to attend our men’s groups, where they are carefully introduced and infromed about women’s- and child rights as well as possible peaceful conflict resolution techniques. The goal is to eradicate gender-based violence against women and girls.


Knowledge deepening and sharing

The best way to remember content is when passing it on to others. To use this learning method, women and girls create their own radio broadcast on a weekly basis, where they discuss the issues broached in the women’s groups. The preparation of the radio program deepens knowledge and intensifies collaboration among the women. But the biggest achievement is that the gained awareness from the group sessions reaches households beyond Simikot: our radio broadcast is heard in the entire Humla district with its 50’000 people.


Establishing livelihoods – Mitigating dependency

One main emphasize of our project is the development of sustainable income sources for greater financial independency. In our agricultural trainings, efficient ecological methods are practiced in order to cultivate the barren land. For instance, the women build green houses, which are cultivated in groups and facilitate, for the first time, the harvest of vegetables during freezing winters. The yields can be sold for a good price in the market giving women an opportunity to make a small earning by themselves. An additional benefit is that these harvests provide to a greater diversity in edible food products in the community and therefore improve the nutritional intake overall. Mahila Avaz also runs bee hives and two chicken farms. Honey and eggs become a symbol for a step into a self-determined life.

  Mahila Avaz – Women’s Voice