Make a donation

Your browser is not up to date.

If you wish to view the Action Against Hunger website correctly, update your browser.
Find the latest versions of supported browsers listed below.

DSC05327-min © Tom Gustin pour Action contre la Faim



In Nepal, women forge their own path

In Nepal, the convergence of the economic crisis and climate change is putting mounting pressure on food security and agriculture. Rural families, who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, are particularly exposed to these challenges. Climate change leads to extreme events such as prolonged droughts and excessive rainfall, disrupting traditional agricultural cycles and jeopardizing harvests. Moreover, the economic crisis is exacerbating the situation, limiting access to resources and forcing many inhabitants to leave the country for better jobs. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), some 500,000 young Nepalese, most men, leave the country every year to work. 




Nepalese women whose husbands have left the country to work abroad often find themselves the sole breadwinners, facing considerable economic challenges. 

For Goma Bishwakarma, it was out of the question to sit back and wait for her husband’s return, who, like many other men in the village, had left to work in Qatar. In the district of Udayapur, almost every family has had the bitter experience of labor migration. The absence of the men prompted many women to step forward. Staying alone with their children was an immense challenge. However, Goma saw the situation as an opportunity. Knowing nothing about local politics, she took the plunge and ran to represent her village as an elected ward member. “Honestly, I didn’t know much about it. Someone in the village put my name forward, and I was elected in the 2017 elections. The economic situation is very difficult. My heart tells me that whoever is in difficulty, I have to help them. Although I also face many problems, and my financial situation is fragile.

Goma is the mother of three boys, the two youngest still living with her. While 9-year-old Bhupendra cleans, 16-year-old Toman prepares lunch and washes the dishes. After ten years of exhausting work abroad, her husband has finally returned home, where he looks after the kitchen garden and bamboo nursery. For her part, Goma has kept her place as an economic player in the household in her own right, but she still has to fight for her place. “I always stress that women can also earn money and are a valuable resource. Today, my husband is very supportive, but my work at home is still not considered. I do the housework and wash the dishes, and when I ask him to help me, he tells me I can do it myself. Even worse, some women must ask their husbands for money to buy lipstick! “. 


NP - FSL - 2024 - Goma & Badri - © Kishor Sharma (52)-min © Kishor Sharma pour Action contre la Faim




There’s still a long way to go, but these transformations within households no longer shock anyone, as women have taken on new roles in which they have become decision-makers. Having fulfilled her mandate to the full, Goma is now a committed women activist and leader of a group of women farmers. She is part of a project run by Action Against Hunger and the local partner Sahara, which aims to strengthen local agricultural production and the livelihoods of vulnerable households: “There’s no shame in learning something new. The women in the village have undergone various types of training, but we couldn’t earn anything. Taking part in training courses and then having to stay at home doing nothing doesn’t make sense. This project is a game-changer: for example, you can make two baskets from a single bamboo and earn 500 rupees. That’s great!”. 

It’s not unusual to meet Goma at rallies, where she raises awareness of the importance of a healthy, diversified diet. The latest mobilization brought together over 150 women and girls to demand equal rights to quality food. While food is widely available throughout the country, the diversity of foods is far from ideal. Indeed, the district of Udayapur records a global acute malnutrition rate of 15.1%, higher than the national average, reflecting an acute deterioration in the nutritional status of children aged between 6 and 59 months. This raises the question of good feeding practices. This also applies to adults, especially women, who are among the groups most vulnerable to undernutrition.


DSC05265-min © Tom Gustin pour Action contre la Faim
DSC05333-min © Tom Gustin pour Action contre la Faim


As for the neighbours, they regularly pass by Goma’s little house near the forest to talk to her or ask for advice. “I’m no longer an elected representative but always there for people. I’m lucky to have the support of my husband and children, who don’t spy on me or question me anymore; I go to work when I want and where I want. Some men constantly question their wives, like – where are you going, what you will get out of it, better to stay at home. In these times, women shouldn’t be confined to their homes.“. 




The small village where Alita Tamang lives lies at an altitude of 2000 m in the Rasuwa district, just a few kilometers from Tibet. Here, the villages are located at a considerable distance from each other and are mostly inhabited by the Tamang people, who are close to Tibetan culture and language. In 2015, the district was heavily impacted by the earthquake, which devastated the village. “When the earthquake hit, people hid in the forest. In the house next door, several people perished under the rubble,” recalls Alita. Because of the severe damage and the presence of water in the underground cavities, the village was declared a red zone, making it impossible to rebuild any houses.  “We decided to stay here and rebuild everything with our means, since we needed land for our kitchen gardens. Moving elsewhere meant losing our land, our community’s main means of subsistence“. 


DSC03750-min © Tom Gustin pour Action contre la Faim
PNTX7019-min © Maryna Chebat pour Action contre la Faim


Alita spends long hours working in the fields. Her village will soon be connected to the water network at home, but for the time being, she uses a small hose to fetch water, an essential task that requires extra effort on her part. She also takes on household chores, skilfully juggling the multiple demands of her daily life. Despite this, she finds the energy to take an active part in the life of her village and plays an essential role as a member of the water users’ collective. This project, supported by Action Against Hunger and the local partner Sahara, aims to improve access to water in remote villages and set up working groups to maintain the infrastructure in good condition. “When we were children, we grew up drinking water from this river. Since then, many water projects have been unsuccessful, but the situation has improved and the infrastructure has been finally set up. We need to keep an eye on things to make sure that all the houses are properly connected“.



DSC03813-min © Tom Gustin pour Action contre la Faim
DSC03789-min © Tom Gustin pour Action contre la Faim


The young woman retires to her small workshop. There, time seems to fly by as she immerses herself in the activity she enjoys so much. It’s her refuge, where she can give free rein to her creativity and find a well-deserved moment of peace after a busy day. Her dream is to be able to weave traditional garments and make a living from them: “The people who stay in the village don’t have particular skills to earn a living. Women work in the fields, but what we really need are different types of trainings to generate additional income. In this region, members of the Tamang community wear a particular type of cap. Training can involve knitting caps and other types of fabric. I want to devote myself fully to knitting and selling my clothes.

Goma and Alita’s stories brilliantly illustrate Nepalese women’s daily struggle for emancipation. Despite the obstacles, they courageously assert themselves, defying doubts, lack of resources and sometimes even lack of education. Their determination to reinvent and uplift themselves inspires not only their own generation. By educating their children, girls and boys, about the importance of gender equality and the crucial place of women in society, Goma, Alita, and other women like them are paving the way for a fairer, more enlightened future in Nepal and beyond.


From March 11 to 22, as part of the 68th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), Action Against Hunger will call on governments to promote universal, feminist social protection models. To tackle the root causes of undernutrition and food insecurity and to build a more egalitarian society, Action Against Hunger will appeal for universal health coverage and a basic income for the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, for everyone, regardless of income, to the world’s leading body devoted exclusively to promoting gender equality.


Stay informed of our latest news

Your e-mail adress is used to send you newsletters from Action against Hunger.
You can unsubscribe at any moment by using the link of unsubscription in the newsletter.
To know more about your data management and your rights.