“Donation and Charities don’t contribute to the long term and stable development of the country. It is only possible through Self dependency, Right Cautiousness and Participatory Development in grass root level of country’s population.”
Women Acting Together For Change (WATCH) was established 30 years ago with this very concept on March 8, 1992. It was formed with the combined efforts of Dr. Narayana Kaji Shrestha, Dr. Jamuna Shrestha and Meena Poudel. It is a purely social, non political and non governmental organization working with the motive to uplifting lives of people and the overall development of the country.
Once, Dr. Jamuna Shrestha together with Dr. Steve Mikesel visited Dhankuta to observe and study the process and activities of community forestry development. There, they met Dr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha and requested him similar participatory process in NGOs. Dr. Shrestha made a study of NGOs working in agriculture sector. In his study, he found that the performance of many NGOs were donation oriented and were unable to ensure self-dependency among the people. Then, convinced that through the participatory development and procedural concept we could develop our society by mobilizing our own resources, two organizations namely Women Acting Together For Change (WATCH) and Gram Jyoti was established with the combined efforts of Dr Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Dr. Jamuna Shrestha and Meena Poudel.
Since its establishment, WATCH has been motivating local women to organize and formulate short term and long term planning through various awareness activities on social disparities. WATCH has been playing vital role in the field of women empowerment, making them self reliant, developing organizational skills and also in building self-respect, self-confidence and their strength to fight back disparities.
WATCH facilitates in identifying needs, knowledge, skills and resources of poor and disadvantaged sector of women. Then the planning of necessary programs is made in their participation. Because, WATCH believes that given the same level of opportunities, poor and disadvantaged groups could contributes as well through active participation in every process and activities of social development.
Inhabitants of Ghunsa, Dadagaun, Danepu at Okhaldhunga were exhibited (deprived of) from using drinking water though the pipelines of water are passed along their houses for headquarters. They had to walk for an hour to bring water. Then, they demanded and struggled for water after they demanded the need of water. As the result of struggle, drinking water project is implemented at economical and technical support of Village Development Committee, District Development Committee and Drinking Water Office. After building water tank, drinking water is distributed at the villages at the number of 19 taps.
Similarly, inhabitants of Dadagaun and Danepu at Okhaldhunga were suffered from displacement created by landslide for many years. They were rehabilitated at the economical and technical support of WATCH and co-ordination with VDC and DDC.
Women group of Bhairabtole, Rupandehi one of the working area of WATCH raised against the lost of budget from government for drinking water project of the village. They had organized rally playing empty pots and dishes and surrounded at VDC. As the protest rally, they succeed to find out budget and fitted tube wells of drinking water. WATCH helped to raise awareness and organize local women group and provided tube wells which they hadn’t enough.
WATCH released 33 families at Rupandehi who were working as bonded, defeated labor for many years at merchants’ house. To live freely and respectfully, rehabilitation is provided for them at the co-ordination of VDC. WATCH raised awareness and organized them as well as provided economical support.
The women group at Rupandehi has played an important role on pressing to give equal money female and male for equal work, raised awareness merchants to behave humane to labors. Likewise, WATCH has also contributed to organize women protesting against unfair of Mana Pathi (especially villagers use for measuring) in exchanging goods.
WATCH has been organized HIV/AIDS and STI education Program since it is established. Similarly, WATCH organizes girls trafficking awareness program. Action camp, street drama, folk songs are performed at the participation of local communities and organizations within the program. Individual visit and group discussion run for high risk and marginalized people. Behavior Change Communication Program is running for high risk male and female.
In 1995, WATCH and other 15 women rights organizations held public hearing for the women who were brought back after sold. At this time, discussion on parental property rights of women was started. So, the government is forced to reconsider about existing laws and rights of women property defined on laws.
Nepal being a Hindu majority country women are worshipped but putting them in hole. Male chauvinistic tendency is widespread. Women and girls are taken as objects to misuse for sexual function and child birth. As women and girls are taken as powerless so they are misused all around. WATCH being aware of this initiated program against violence prevention. Rather than just a project it is taken as a programme and included in all its projects. Initially, sex workers being most vulnerable for abuse sex workers were trained and prepared to fight against such violence. First Nepali manual was developed and trained steelworkers of six districts. Later it was adapted and used in the women’s groups of six districts. Even ward level action teams were formed to take action against the violence.
With the aim of accessibility to door-to-door health services and facilities to rural people, WATCH provides primary health care service within their participation. WATCH prioritizes on preventive method rather than curative method. At present, WATCH provides health clinic with doctor and laboratory at Kathmandu. Office clinic and mobile clinic are provided for local group at three sites of WATCH. As de-worming camp has provided to local communities in their participation for each 6-month, nutrition and health condition of children and women have improved.
WATCH facilitates local technique and skill for independent development by recognizing and mobilizing resources, structure available at local level. WATCH provides farmers class at three sites. At Rupandehi, model leading farmers’ class is running. Similarly, WATCH provides economical and technical support for mushroom, banana, season/off season vegetable, and fish farming. WATCH helps to improve local traditional technique. WATCH counsels on prevention and control over different maladies and insects using local insecticide, urine fertilizer, compost fertilizer, mulching. It helps to promote productivity and raises life standard of farmers.
WATCH facilitates literacy classes to increase practical knowledge and skill through informal education. For the purpose, WATCH has published course books for three sites. Likewise, discussion class is running accordingly post literacy material for the persons who have already joined basic literacy class.
WATCH provides economical support to very poor women without any interest through women federations to prevent from high interest rate and to raise life standard through income generation. Women federation mobilizes investment fund received from WATCH and it raises funds by dividing half of interest to women group fund and half of to federation fund. Not only the local women are prevented from high interest rate but also saved from seizing properties from merchants through investment program supported by WATCH. Habit of saving money is started as income is increased.
When poor and deprived women don’t get support and help from anywhere, they become disparaged, exploited and oppressed from family and society. As a result, they lose their self-respect, self-esteem and hardly reach for services, facilities and rights. WATCH plays an important role to form, mobilize and strengthen these women so that they will able to solve their problem.
At Rupandehi, Okhaldhunga and Chhaimale area, 272 women group, 51 children group, 10 disable group and hundreds of community forestry user group altogether 5 thousands families are working till now.
WATCH supports to form federation of these small groups and build capacity. At Rupandehi, 3 federations have formed as Mahila Jagaran Sahayog Samuha, Mahila Ekata Sangathan and Asha Jyoti Sahayog Samuha respectively. Similarly, Sanyukta Mahila Jagaran Sahayog Samuha, Mahila Bikashaka Lagi Aadhar Samuha and Mahila Ekata have formed at Chhaimale, Okhaldhunga and Kathmandu respectively at total of 6. National and international donor agencies have provided economical support to those groups. Among them, federations of Rupandehi, Okhaldhunga and Chhaimale have built own office at the support of WATCH and local level national and international organizations. WATCH implements programs in coordination of the federation.
WATCH supports women group by developing their plans, implementation and analysis in order to be active and effective. During the development of plans, resources are recognized at local availability, sketching resource map, transit walks and seek of potentialities. In participation of local people, 5 years vision is sketched and annual planning is developed accordingly. After developing monthly work plan, WATCH helps to implement and analyze.
While many National and International level organizations are emerging in Nepal, they are in need of support. WATCH supports them to develop capacity building. It provides trainings for registration process, writing proposals and finding donors.
WATCH organizes training on HIV/AIDS prevention and control, natural resource management, integrated community development and primary health care service, participatory working process. Similarly, trainings such as group organization and mobilization process, social gender discrimination and equality, dialogical, skill, trainer’s training, proposal and report writing, behavior change communication (BCC) program, community forestry users’ group (CFUG) organization and facilitation, leadership development, organizational capacity analysis have provided for various organizations.
WATCH is involved to aware and strengthens to local users’ group in order to regain control over the protection, management and utilization of natural resources. WATCH has played a critical role in process of forming a Federation of Community Forestry Users in Nepal (FECOFUN), National Federation of Irrigation Water Users in Nepal (NFIWUAN), and strengthening and capacity building. In addition, WATCH facilitates on making policies as well as develops and implements program to share and utilize natural resources in proper way. For the purpose, WATCH is very active in advocacy at local, national and international level.
WATCH’s central office and site offices have resource centers for utilization of own and other organizations. Mobile resource centers are running through local Tukis (Social Mobilizer). Publications of HIV/AIDS, health, agriculture, animal farming, community development, natural resource management, women, rights are available in the resource center. There is availability of newspapers, magazines, reports, Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials and video film. WATCH also publishes and distributes various IEC materials such as posters, manuals, newsletters and comics in order to be independent organization.
At Rupandehi, Okhaldhunga and Kathmandu Area, WATCH provides support to the girls who have already missed their study at school because of poverty. Scholarships as well as necessary materials have been provided for them. Till now, scholarship to 400 poor family’s daughters has given at three sites. Scholarships are provided from scholarship fund established by individuals and organizations in commencement of WATCH. WATCH organizes encouragement program for the parents to continue the study of girls and save money in their account. With aim of income generation, free interest of loan is provided within the program.
WATCH manages separate classes for the girls who have missed school already. The classes are running in 13 schools at Rupandehi, Katmandu and Okhaldhunga. WATCH provides post literacy classes. Stationery and teachers training to the schools are provided who contribute to WATCH’s education program.
With the aim of management, regular supervision and monitoring of activities, it is supposed to be formed management committee of representatives of School, VDC, Women group, WATCH and parents.
WATCH has been working at different area and communities for 13 years. In coming days, WATCH is committed to strengthen program, organize poor and public rights effectively.
To settle in the society, WATCH has aimed to organize disables in their activeness. For rehabilitation of disables, the inseparable organ of society, it is necessary to change views of family and society and should end harassment of disables within them. Afterwards, it is possible to settle in the society as other citizens. For the purpose, WATCH will run specific programs in future.
It is essential to have participation of local communities for long-term development. WATCH is assured that local resources couldn’t mobilize without their well participation. So, WATCH will apply process of transfer programs to local communities regularly emphasizing their effective participation by developing visions of local women group and women federation, implementation of plans, supervision, evaluation, distribution process of outcomes.