KATHMANDU, Aug 2: Many girls in rural Nepal drop out from schools too early. Many are married and become mothers by the time they reach the age of fifteen.
Many also die from pregnancy complications. Republica talked to young girls from Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk and Jumla to better understand their views on early marriage, menstruation and women health issues.
The girls were in Kathmandu to attend ‘Girls Support Committee Symposium’ organized by ‘Her Turn’, an organization that provides workshops about gender equality, safety and health to young girls.
Swostika Amgain, 13
We could never imagine openly talking about our menstrual problems. I think girls are always dominated in our country and I want to change that perception. So, girls have to be the change makers in the society. I want to study law so that and impact our society positively.
Jasmina Lama, 18
I’m the third girl from my village to go to college. So, I feel I have a responsibility towards my society. Girl trafficking rate in Sindhupalchowk has always been high. As a social mobilizer, I motivate young girls to speak up about their problems. We even have social clubs in schools where student organize different programs to discuss problems and find solutions. But only educating girls about violence and abuse is not enough. They are just victims. Mostly the perpetrators are boys. I think we need to educate boys about these issues.
Sushila Basnet, 20
Girls from my village are shy to talk about issues like menstruation. In the four week workshop in my village, I shared my own experience with the girls and tried to boost their confidence. As a local mentor, I know most of the girls and they feel comfortable sharing with me. They might not feel the same with an outsider. It is a gradual process but if a girl is aware about healthy living, she might discuss this with her mother and in return aware more people.
Bina Tamang, 15
My class mate dropped out of school in grade 6. A year later she got married. I had taken a workshop on girl empowerment, so I kept on telling my friend to go back to school. At first she was angry but later I was able to convince her about the importance of education. Now she has joined school and I am happy. We have a social club where we discuss about our problems in the school. This has not only made us confident but also has empowered us to solve our problems.
Sarita Rokaya, 15
Jumla, Ghode Mahadev
My parents used to send me to a shed during my periods. My mentors told me about healthy habits and cleanliness. Because my parents are uneducated, it was difficult to convince them. It took time but they finally agreed to my demands. Now they let me sleep in a clean room and they take good care of me. I am now more confident to speak up about my rights.