With the majestic Himalayas as a backdrop, Nepal offers a breathtaking beauty and unique cultural mystique. With about thirty-six different ethnic groups and multiple religions and languages, the multi-dimensional cultural heritage of Nepal has evolved over the centuries, and it encompasses the diversities of its ethnic, tribal, and social groups, greatly influenced an assemblage of music, architecture, religion and literature.
While vastly rich in culture, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 25.2% of its 27.47 million people living below the poverty line,1 placing it 157th out of 187 countries listed in the Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
of 28 million people in Nepal are living below the poverty line, making it one of the poorest countries in the world.
123rd out of 135
FROM NEPAL: MEET THE ARTISANS
Friends Handicrafts fights urban poverty in Nepal by training and employing female heads-of-household in the art of felting. As urbanization throughout the country continues to outpace economic growth, the reality of employment opportunities in cities like Kathmandu is becoming increasingly bleak. The sales of these felt products Friends provide meaningful work, enabling the artisans to provide food and education for their children. In addition, Friends Handicrafts supports skills training and income generation programs for its artisans.
Based out of Nepal and a member of the Fair Trade Federation, JeevanKala is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting artisans and their economic development. In Nepali, “Jeevan” means life, while “Kala” means art. Therefore, the name JeevanKala means “Art for Life.” Each product from JeevanKala is artisan-made; JeevanKala currently employs approximately 200 artisans who are between the ages of 25 and 50. Many of the artisans working with JeevanKala are single mothers, widows, and individuals with disabilities. Many have also been affected by the caste system in Nepal and are known as “untouchables,” an oppressed group of individuals. Every purchase of products made by artisans working with JeevanKala goes toward supporting the artisans and their families and providing them with fair wages, as well as toward supporting the healthcare and education programs of Himalayan HealthCare, which is JeevanKala’s parent organization.
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
Nepal is going through a complex political situation after the decade-long Maoist insurgency, which has taken a toll of about 13,000 lives, and hampered the delivery of basic services, restricted development assistance, and caused a breakdown of family and community networks.3 Often, poor families are often obliged to send their children to work rather than to school, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
In Nepal, there is a wide gap between women and men in terms of access to health care, nutrition, education and participation in decision-making. Illiteracy is more prevalent among women than men, and many rural women live in extreme poverty, without any means of improving conditions for themselves and their families.5Furthermore, women continue to face violence in various forms, such as rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence; and discriminatory attitudes regarding gender roles remain deeply entrenched in the Nepalese society. These factors, among other, place Nepal 123rd out of 135 countries in Global Gender Gap.