5 Minute Inspiration: How do ID cards help women in Nepal out of poverty?

by 19th Sep 2018
Women with the savings box in Syangja village, Nepal. Women with the savings box in Syangja village, Nepal.

A CARE Nepal project helped women find a way out of poverty using training and ID cards. One woman in the project got her first citizenship card at age 21 even though she had been married for 8 years already. She told us that, before the project she wasn’t allowed to say her husband’s name. Now, she’s running a business that can pull her out of poverty. Find out more about what this project achieved for women's ecomomic empowerment in Nepal.

What did we accomplish?

  • Increased incomes: Women who started micro-businesses were earning from $78-$143 per month with those businesses. That’s up to 3.5 times above the international poverty line.
  • More women in leadership: 125 women were able to take on new leadership positions in their community: on school boards, in water and hygiene committees, and in village development committees. These are all leadership positions outside of project committees.
  • Women are more involved in decisions: 90% of women in the programme said that they were able to get more involved and make more effective decisions in their families.
  • Government supported resources: The local governments provided $3,600 to support women’s groups at the local level with either credit or training.
  • Women built better businesses: 575 women started micro-businesses, and 85% of women in the programme said their entrepreneurship improved to good or excellent.
  • More equal labor: Men started doing housework to give their wives spaces to run their businesses and be community leaders.
  • Improved women’s social positions: Women felt that they were more mobile, had more respect in their communities, and were better able to lead. They achieved this partly because they helped men start businesses which gained their respect. 100 women also got official identity cards for the first time in their lives.

How did we get there?

  • Help women acquire skills: The project trained more than 4,000 women in entrepreneurship and 575 of them started micro-businesses.
  • Support access to credit: The women in VSLAs mobilized $6,200 of their own money to add to the $36,000 in rotating credit funds that the project provided to women to start businesses. At the end of the project, all of the loans had been repaid.
  • Provide ongoing support: The project worked with the government and local NGOs to provide mobile service clinics so that women could access ongoing help to answer business questions and continue their professional development.
  • Make connections: The project linked women both to local governments and to market actors through 7 women’s agricultural cooperatives that did collective marketing to improve their businesses.

Between 2014 and 2017 the H&M conscious foundation funded the Atmanirbhar project for $167,445. CARE worked with Siddhartha Samudaik Samaj as a local partner and together we reached 4,209 people.

Want to learn more?

Check out the final evaluation.


Note: The photo used to illustrate this blog is not directly from the project described.

Emily Janoch

Emily Janoch is Senior Technical Advisor on Knowledge Management for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share practical experience on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. She focuses on learning from programming and using that learning to improve impact.

With four years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa, 10 years of development experience, and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, Emily is especially interested in community-led development. She has experience in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender programming, and has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters' in Public Policy in International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Email: ejanoch@care.org