Samida Women Development Forum, Single and Domestic Violence Group also known as SWDF was established in 2011. It is a Non-Governmental Organization for women of all ages and marital status in Nepal. It is dedicated to create an active network of single mothers that face abuse (physical/sexual/mental/emotional) from family members across national, regional and international levels. SWDF vision is the creation of an equal society for “single mother”, which are strengthened and empowered without fear of abuse. SWDF defines “single mother” as Widows and Divorcees. SWDF actively works to address the rights of these women in Nepal by working exclusively with and for single mother. In Nepal, being a ‘Widow’ or ‘Divorced’ is viewed with an unhealthy disdain, i.e. they are humiliated, leading to misery and depression in these women.
It is not just these women in Nepal that are discriminated against; it is all women from various aspects of everyday life, be it cultural traditions to laws and policies. For widows, the problems are magnified as ostracised from society, as being a widow brings shame upon their families. These women (widows and divorcees) are seen as suspicious, a bad omen and even the cause of the death of their husband or reason for divorce with their husband. Furthermore, there are particular traditional and religious practices in Nepalese society, which cause physical and mental abuse, which make the mental health of these women far worse and ultimately lead to their lowering their status in the society.
Initially, SWDF focused on encouraging single mother to step outside the boundaries of their homes and share their sorrow, fear and frustration. The kind of sharing opportunities were provided at monthly meetings. Experts in various development fields were invited to share their experiences and knowledge with the group at these meetings. The group met informally for one year in a small room, sharing their grief and pain at the loss of their husbands and their families. The single mother found solace and comfort in sharing their stories with other women who have had similar experiences. Realizing that they are not alone in their issues and dilemmas, the single mother worked together to boost their confidence and started living their lives.
This was prior to registering SWDF as a formal organization in 2011. Today, in mid-2017, it is bringing hope and solace throughout the Kathmandu district with over 65 single mother now as members.
The overall vision of SWDF is to create a non-discriminatory and equitable society by helping single mother become empowered economically, politically, socially and culturally, and to live dignified lives, enjoying values of human rights.
The overall goal of the organization is “To establish a society where women can fully enjoy life to the full, being free from all kinds of discrimination, oppression, harassment and ill behaviour based on their gender and can lead their lives with prosperity, dignity and a bright future”.
The main purpose of the program is to alleviate poverty by encouraging women to earn money for financially sustainability and independency without which, equality dignity and self-respect remain into mere words on a piece of paper.
In addition, the organisation intends to work in specifically in Kathmandu and nearby villages to achieve the following:
Build a just a society where single mother are respected and can live with complete dignity.
Prepare and provide sufficient legal provisions for single mother's political, social, cultural and economic rights.
Our aims are:
To mainstream the rights of Single Mother in development, humanitarian and peace building initiatives.
To raise social and economic statues of Nepalese Single Mother and their families.
To enhance the capacity of single mother to boost their confidence and self-esteem so that they can be their own ‘Agents of change’.
To advocate and lobby the meaningful participation of single mother at decision making levels in social, economic and political spheres.
SWDF works with Single Mother which include: widows, wives of missing husbands, divorcees, unmarried women of 35 years of age, and women separated but not divorced from their husbands.
SWDF has adopted unique methods to give voice to single mother . It brings together widows of all categories, including single mother from all sides of the conflict on a well levelled platform regardless of their caste, ethnicity (ethnic group) or political background.
The work of SWDF involves the holistic empowerment of single mother and their dependents by viewing their issues through the perspective of individual and society. SWDF has been working in the area of socio-cultural, economic, legal and political empowerment of single mother . SWDF has just not identified the needs and priorities of single mother and their families but also significantly raised the standard of living of these families. It has involved all its stakeholders in its programs-media, religious leaders, government officers, I/NGO and policy makers to sensitize each and every people about the issues of single mother and work together for the empowerment of widows.
Although the law provides protections for women, including equal pay for equal work, the government has not taken significant action to implement its provisions, even in many of its own industries. Women face systematic discrimination, particularly in rural areas, where religious and cultural tradition, lack of education, and ignorance of the law, remain severe impediments to their exercise of basic rights such as the right to vote or to hold property in their own names. Women have benefited from some changes in marriage and inheritance laws. In 1994 the Supreme Court laid out provisions for a Citizenship Law that discriminated against foreign spouses of Nepalese women. However, many other discriminatory laws still remain. According to legal experts, there are over 20 laws that discriminate against women. For example, the law grants women the right to divorce, but on narrower grounds than those applicable to men. The law on property rights also favours men in its provisions for inheritance, land tenancy, and the division of family property.
Lack of economic power and financial independence leaves women vulnerable to abuse. They neither have effective rights to property, nor any access to capacity and assertion building courses.
Nepal has made strong normative and legal commitments to ending gender-based violence and inequality. It has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), thereby legally binding itself to put the CEDAW provisions into practice. In addition to this, it is essential to create awareness in society that the differences between men and women exist only in our minds, but not empirically in regard to work competence, intelligence and skill. It is not that women are inferior to men, but that traditional religious practice formed over time by and for men, discounts women’s rights.