Women in Leadership: Promoting Gender equality and empowerment

Asmita Bhujel participating in street drama inside refugee camp

LWF Nepal with support from UNHCR has been providing care, maintenance, protection and shelter to the Bhutanese refugee since 1991. Approximately 6,500 remaining Bhutanese refugees have been living in two camps after resettlement program which ended in December 2018. The remaining population, women cover 46.52 percent of the total population Assistance has been shifted from humanitarian to gradually self-reliant.  Bhutanese Refugee Women Forum (BRWF), Bhutanese Refugee Association of the Disabled (BRAD) and the Bhutanese Refugee Children Forum (BRCF) are the key community based organization (CBOs) in Bhutanese refugee community working for the protection and advocacy for their rights and their empowerment.

Community based organizations (CBOs) with partnership with LWF Nepal are responsible to conduct programs in women empowerment, child protection, and bringing the persons with disability in the mainstream of the programs. LWF continuously provide capacity enhancement training, support them for advocacy for their rights, and monitor their regular activities to achieve the targeted result. As a result of joint coordination and advocacy from LWF and the CBOs, BRCF, BRWF and BRAD were successfully indexed as community based organization in Municipal Ward Office.

Asmita Bhujel, 21 years old, young and vibrant lady lives in Beldangi camp. She was born in refugee camp as the eldest child to her parents. She has received high-school education from camp school and the nearby host community school in Damak. Asmita, was active youth taking part in singing and dance class in BRWF while she was in her school and camp based program. After her high-school education, she started working BRCF in 2015 as Drop-In-Center (DIC) assistant In-charge and actively involved in identification of school drop-out children, provide them supportive and motivational counseling by involving them in additional study sessions in BRCF, counselling to regular the school and rejoined the school, refer the drop out to vocational training, musical class for drop-out, involved children in drawing.  She was promoted to DIC In-charge in 2016, the Children Facilitator in 2017 due to her dedication and consistency in the field of child safeguarding. Finally, Ms. Asmita was promoted to BRCF Program Coordinator, as the key person to lead the overall child protection program.

Asmita got opportunity to received capacity building training/orientation on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) training, leadership training, life skill training, 15 days Community Based Intervention (CBI) training for effective communication and dealing with children, case management training, and Master of Ceremony training which enhanced her inner knowledge and leadership skills. Following the training she organized training on CRC for other children in camp and host community to make aware about the child rights, engaged in raising awareness against substance abuse and sensitization of the parents through street drama and group counselling.

Ms. Asmita says, "I feel really proud to see positive changes in the life of children due to my dedication in the field of child protection. I always remember a boy who had alcoholic behavior and was school dropout and after the regular counselling and motivation, he stopped using alcohol, continued his study, and successfully completed his high school bringing positive changes in his life. I visit such numerous family to meet the children, discuss about their care issue and education with them and their parents to find a way to find a solution". She further says "A girl child who did not receive proper care from and was physically assaulted by step-father resulting problem in her study and overall development. We provided counselling to the step-father motivating in his behavioral change. I and my colleagues also meet the adolescents, discuss how the minor marriage negatively affects their study, health and overall development to stop minor marriage in the camp."

Asmita feels proud about her work towards to the community. She says that "Many children do not know where to share their problem. I and my team always focus to bring those children in BRCF, provide supportive counselling to find solution to their problem. Despite all these now she not also contributing her work in refugee camp but also has become financial contributor to her family. With a little hope she is thankful to LWF and UNHCR for continuous support and the motivation for enhancing skill and personality development.

Dr. Prabin Manandhar, Country Director, LWF Nepal says, “Life is slowly changing for those who have remained in the camps for the better as the refugees are building livelihoods.  Women are getting empowered to support and strengthen protection measures for women and children.”


A contribution by LWF Nepal.