In August, READ Nepal received a Public Library Innovation Award from Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) at the IFLA WLIC 2013 for its commitment to empowering women in innovative ways at our Model Center in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Gender discrimination is pervasive in Nepal—girls’ education is a low priority and as a result, 48% of Nepalese women cannot read. Many women also lack marketable skills, and are thus unable to contribute to their family’s income. In a country where half of the population survives on less than $2 per day, educating and empowering women is key to eliminating poverty. To meet this pressing need, READ Nepal has developed an array of women’s empowerment programs at its 54 Centers.
In 2010, READ Nepal launched a Capacity Building Initiative for Women and Girls at our Model Center to promote local women’s independence. A series of seminars and workshops were conducted in the Center’s women’s section—for many women, the only dedicated space in the community where they can gather and speak freely. Women have the opportunity to learn about gender discrimination, their rights, women’s health, and gender-based violence. The Center also provides courses on literacy, computer skills, and entrepreneurship training so that women can open their own small businesses and enter the workforce with valuable skills.
Since the program launched three years ago, 90 women have learned literacy and numeracy skills, 148 women have acquired computer skills, as well as many more who have started their own small businesses and are earning a living for the first time.
“The library made us independent and provided us with an opportunity to know the wider world,” said Sushma Sharma, a woman who took a training at the Center.