Case Study – Micro Credit Reduces Violence
Nepal: Micro Credit Reduces Violence
One woman’s example an inspiration for others
By- Maina Dhital
Micro credit has become an effective tool to reduce violence against women in Nepal. Phoolmati of Sarlahi, Rajghat, in the Eastern Terai [the southern region below the Himalayas on the border with India], was given an opportunity to start a small business through a micro credit program.
She is now self-dependent and being treated with respect in society. She is known as a businesswoman in her community as she sells Mauree (a kind of food). But she remembers how things were before she was given a loan.
“I could even not get sufficient food that time,” she recalled.
Because she was regularly beaten by her husband, she was screened as a victim by the Gender Based Violence Project, which is jointly run by the Nepal Family Planning Association (NFPA) and the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Deciding that poverty was the main cause of the violence in her situation, the project provided her with 5,000 Nepali rupees at a privileged rate.
“I started a small mobile shop of Mauree with that amount,” she said. “With the earnings, I could fulfill my daily needs.”
Now her business exceeds 15,000 rupees. She has also been making the payments on her loan.
“Initially, my husband didn’t show any concern regarding my business,” she said.
By the time she started attending group meetings, Phoolmati was empowered economically and well informed about the legal and reproductive rights of women. She warned her husband that she would file a complaint with the police if he did not stop beating her.
“Since then, he hasn’t abused me and started to help in my business,” she said.
The Gender Based Violence Project was launched one year ago, according to project coordinator Ajelia Ranjitkar. She said that more than 2,000 women were benefiting from the project. As of July, the project had provided loans totaling 673,000 rupees.
The program has been conducted in the districts of Makwanpur, Rupendehi, Nawalparasi, Sarlahi and Dhanusha. These districts were identified as ones with the most cases of domestic violence.
Women have also been involved in small trade, stitching and tailoring, agriculture, livestock, etc. under this project.
“As our pre-study revealed that violence was the main cause of poverty, we decided to launch an economic empowerment program for those women,” said Ranjitkar.
The micro credit program introduced by Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, who won a Nobel Prize this year, became popular in Nepal after 1990. Community based organizations and nongovernmental organizations, including micro finance institutions, are involved in micro credit. According to the Central Bank of Nepal, the rural development bank and some other major rural based institutions provided about 23 billion rupees in micro credit loans as of July.
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