“The world will change when our girls and our women are educated.” -Maggie Doyne
Amazing things happen when women come together and support each other. That is the core premise – and promise – of the Kopila Valley Women’s Center.
We opened our doors in 2013 with the goal of providing life-changing job training and education to women in our community. The center expanded in 2014 to include a retail shop in town, staffed by graduates of our training program and stocked with their beautiful handmade products. We've also expanded to include a counseling center and a microloan program, all part of our mission to bring women together and empower them to lead better lives.
While Nepal’s patriarchal society is slowly fading and disparities between men and women narrow, there is still a clear gap in gender equality. Most of the women in Surkhet struggle to make a living. They do intense physical labor. They farm. They break stones. They walk miles to the jungle for firewood to cook meals. When we talk to mothers, we hear stories of abuse, deprivation, and loss. And yet these women are the strongest on Earth. They don't complain. They just move ever forward, dreaming of brighter days and seeking an opportunity to feed and educate their children, to keep them healthy and strong. The goal of our center and store is to provide that opportunity and those bright days.
When women are educated and empowered, only then can we make steps to alleviate poverty, find gender equality, and foster a thriving community. At the Women’s Center, we work together to shape the curriculum and offer the best opportunities for development and daily inspiration. We hold classes covering a range of topics, including parenting, human rights, health, stress management, and self-confidence. These classes then run alongside the women’s vocational learning such as sewing, weaving, business classes, and entrepreneurship.
The Women’s Center and store is a simple space to convene, learn, share, and create. Even though they are from different age groups, villages, and castes – and only a few have ever been to school before – the women are working together as one. It’s magical to watch them grow, give back, and smile like never before. All of the women who work at the store have been part of our training. The women produce clothing, uniforms, and backpacks for the students of our school as well orders from the local community. Every day the women are working on new ideas for designs to sell and practice their skills. Each woman is part of the process, from weaving the fabric we use, to quality control, to shop management - bringing the whole store to life.
Our women are inspiring the next generation by showing them that an education is the best way to break down social and economic barriers. Our women are working to ensure their own girls are educated, which reduces the risk of exploitation, encourages delayed childbirth, and ultimately leads to a more skilled and productive labor force in the community.
The center is alive with activity, sharing, friendship, and personal growth. Our store and center is a place for our women to hone their handicraft skills and supply the local community while gaining knowledge in sales, business, design, and creativity - bringing ideas to life.
We want to thank Dining for Women for helping us get this off the ground and running.