RESIST: Women environmental human rights defenders in Nepal resisting gender-based violence

Grantee: DanChurchAid, National Indigenous Women’s Federation, Dalit Women’s Rights Forum
Country: Nepal

Overview

This project will address gender-based violence affecting marginalized women’s groups (Indigenous Tharus women exploited under bonded labor practices and Dalit women who face caste-based discrimination) who are engaged in the protection, management, and use of community forests to enable their conservation of forest resources and uphold human rights. These women experience harassment and physical/verbal abuse by protected area security forces – while also facing violence from those engaged in illegal logging. The project will address these challenges to help ensure women have safe access to forest resources to contribute to climate adaptation and mitigation targets while working with journalists on survivor-centered storytelling to bring issues to light.

Targeted Outcome

Women are more empowered and more safe from gender-based violence to engage in forestry management and protection.

Planned community engagement

Strengthening the capacities of 5,000 people – members of 50 Community Forest User Groups against gender-based violence in community forest management; support to 375 women environmental human rights defenders

Planned Reach

The project aims to reach 48,047 community members via awareness campaigns

Situational background

In Nepal’s Kailali District, the indigenous Tharu community and Dalit hill migrants have historically been marginalised and exploited despite representing a large percentage of the population. The Tharu are exploited through the Kamaiya and Kamlari (bonded labour) practices and the Dalit face caste-based discrimination. Though these practices are banned by the government, these practices are still common, especially targeting women, who are essential in managing and using natural resources from the community forests for their livelihoods and food. Women also face verbal harassment and physical abuse from forest guards who prevent their access to forests, barring their ability to access essential timber and non-timber products. They also face violence when confronting illegal loggers and poachers. In Community Forest User Groups, women are discouraged and barred from engaging in decision-making, experiencing harassment and violence to keep them out. 

Project Approach

DanChurchAid (DCA), with the National Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF) and the Dalit Women’s Rights Forum (DWRF), are launching RESIST. The project complements existing environmental conservation efforts carried out by targeted Community Forest User Groups and addresses gender-based violence so that women and girls will have safe access to forest resources to enable their contributions to climate adaptation and mitigation. Project partners will work in coordination with the Division Forest Office under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to integrate gender-based violence prevention, mitigation and response into policies to help protect Tharu and Dalit women engaged in forest protection, management and use. The project will also work with journalists on survivor-centred storytelling to raise awareness while identifying and mobilising male champions within Community Forest User Groups to promote gender equality and refrain from using harassment and violence to prevent women’s decision-making