Hemja Women’s Cooperative
Computers Centre was installed and digital literacy training program delivered for the benefit of the Hemja women's group.
- Location : Hemja Women's Cooperative, Hemja, Kaski District (GPS: 28.278086, 83.931276).
- Population : 1,000 members
- Date : Dec 2014 + ongoing user training and support.
- Project : Installation of computer centre + capacity building programs.
- Category : Computers, Training,
According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs “gender inequality persists in our region, undermining economic growth, human development and poverty reduction.” Furthermore, UNICEF reports that “gender equality and the well-being of children are inextricably linked… when women are empowered to lead full and productive lives, children and families prosper.” It is clear that gender equality is critical to development and better educated and empowered women have better educated children.
We have been committed to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls since our inception. Our scholarship program awards the majority of scholarships to girls and our most prestigious scholarship, the Anne van Riel Scholarships, is awarded to girls.
We initiated our first computer centre and training program that focuses specifically on women’s community groups. A new centre was opened in December 2014 at the Hemja Women’s Group – Hemja Multipurpose building located in town of Hemja, around 14km North-West of Pokhara. The group helps around 1,000 women who mainly come from the traditionally most marginalised groups in Nepal. The group provides training programs, support services, and manages a pre-primary day care facility.
We first received a request for assistance from the group through our Manager of Education and Training, Ves Raj Bastola, and we responded by establishing a pilot centre with five computers to deliver digital literacy and vocational education courses. Ves Raj was also involved as a committee member in the women’s group and took on the task of helping to coordinate support and training in the project.
The computers were installed in a room at the multipurpose building full of foot powered sewing machines that members were trained to use so they could generate additional household income. When we returned in June 2015 to assess the program, we found:
• Most of the sewing machines were moved to the basement and the Nepal government added an additional five computers to the Centre.
• One of the women took on the role as Centre Trainer after being trained by our Manager and then going on to complete a certified digital literacy course.
• 50 women had been awarded digital literacy certificates after completing an intensive computer training courses coordinated by the Centre Trainer.
• The local youth group, who shared space in the multipurpose building with the women’s group, volunteered their time on an ongoing basis to support the centre and its users.
• The centre was frequently opened and being used by college students for study, as a communications facility for staying in contact with family, as an e-library for information, for digital literacy training, for local business women who were preparing promotional and other materials for their business, and for helping to teach literacy to illiterate women.