A Gender-Sensitive Strategy for Building Resilient Communities

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Now more than ever, we need gender specific strategies to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises induced by climate change. Women are disproportionately impacted by climate change as they make up majority of the world’s poor; face social, economic and political barrier; and are more dependent on natural resources for livelihood (Source: UN Women Watch). In our part of the world, the Himalayas, we have already witnessed how short-term and long-term impacts of climate change have exacerbated gender-based violence, girls access to education and women’s health issues. 

This year, Mountain Resiliency Project has launched our first ever Tibetan Women Fellowship, an incubator for Tibetan refugee women to lead social enterprises to solve pressing issues affecting women in our community. The US State Department’s Julia Taft Grant for Refugees has funded this fellowship.

 We kicked off the fellowship in three different regions in Nepal, Kathmandu Valley October 21st and 22nd, Mustang Valley October 23rd and 24th, and Nubri Valley November 6th and 7th. In total, we had 40 Tibetan refugee women representing 7 Tibetan refugee camps. 

The fellows shared issues facing women in mountain communities, such as gender-based violence, economic inequality, and lack of women in leadership positions. The retreat trainers guided the fellows through various development tools such problem mapping, human centered design thinking, solutions mapping, business model and systems thinking. Fellows then designed social enterprise solutions to solve women’s issues in their community. For the next ten months, 15 fellows will be leading social enterprise projects in 6 Tibetan refugee camps. Our fellowship projects range from women’s peer health education in Jawalakhel Refugee Camp to women farmer’s enhanced agricultural productivity in Mustang Refugee Camp and Dhorpattan Refugee Camp. The fellows will receive specialized guidance and seed funding for the next ten months to execute their social enterprise.

Sonam Dolma, from Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Camp, shared her experience “this retreat and fellowship has given me the resources to lead my social enterprise, which is to improve textile development skills for women in my camp. This opportunity will be transformational for my personal and my community’s growth. We have never had an opportunity like this for Tibetan women”.

They have developed gender specific strategies that will build their community’s resilience in light of uncertain times ahead. Follow  facebook.com/mountainresiliency and mountainresiliency.org to receive more updates on the girls journey for the next ten months.