In 1993, the United Nations decided that the 15th of May every year should be observed as The International Day of Families. This day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families. This year, we’d love to share with you the work we’ve done to support families across the Far West of Nepal, and how our upcoming Start Strong Appeal will help to make a difference to the lives of 1,000 mothers and their children.
Mountain life in Nepal is beautiful, but it is one of the most challenging environments to raise a family. A harsh climate, difficult farming conditions and a lack of access to healthcare services sadly causes preventable deaths, especially amongst women and children. In order to support remote families in the Far West of Nepal, we work within the key themes of health, education and livelihoods to improve skills and raise awareness of the importance of accessible healthcare and a nutritious diet.
Women are the foundation of family life in Nepal, but often struggle to produce enough food to feed their children, and can struggle to access medical support in times of emergency. With women playing such a vital role within a family, we believe that it is crucial that they are given an equal opportunity to access opportunities which would enable them to take control of their own lives, and therefore improve the lives of their children. In the Start Strong Project area, 84% of women give birth alone without a health worker present, with 50% also not receiving any antenatal care visits. This lack of access to maternal healthcare impacts women across all stages of the antenatal, birth and postnatal periods with opportunities to influence a child’s future health often being missed. In addition, a patriarchal society often means that women are denied access to agricultural training and materials, resulting in a lack of nutritious food for their children. Sadly, 50% of children in our project area are underweight, but we are working to change this.
These figures highlight how a lack of support for mothers can impact negatively on her entire family. Since 2005, our aim has been to support women and provide them with the confidence to play a more active role in their community and family. Over the past 16 years, we’ve helped to change the lives of thousands of women in Nepal, and now we’re almost half-way through our biggest ever appeal!
Our Start Strong Appeal will fund a three-year project, which will improve maternal healthcare and increase the availability of high value foods, ensuring that mothers can give their children a strong start in life. Through providing female farmers with access to training and materials, they will have the necessary skills to provide healthy, nutritious food for their families, all year round. Furthermore, by improving access to maternal healthcare, women across the Far West of Nepal will no longer have to give birth alone, or suffer unnecessarily due to a lack of awareness of the importance of regular health check-ups during pregnancy.
Through supporting and empowering women, we hope to make a difference to countless families in the Far West of Nepal. A strong woman results in a strong family, and a strong start to life for her children. This International Families Day, we’re supporting the vulnerable families who need it most, just as we will continue to do for many years to come.