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Fishing and the Future of Women’s Empowerment in Nepal

In 2017, the Inspirational Women Series sat down with an empowered young woman named Kanchan Amatya for an interview to discuss her impressive achievements. She was born in Nepal, and through her belief that everyone should have an equal chance in life, she earned herself a scholarship to study abroad for an advanced education. By the age of 21, Amatya is now serving as a U.N. Women Global Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment, is the founder of Sustainable Fish Farming Initiative (SSFI) and is an ambassador to Women Protection Center Nepal.

Sustainable Fish Farming Initiative 

SSFI is a female-owned social enterprise focused on fighting food security problems and poverty in the rural Nepal region. The organization offers tools and education on sustainable aquaculture and works to continue women’s empowerment in Nepal by providing women with access to all the necessary resources. These include training, micro-credit, distribution and market facilitation to allow farmers to harvest their own fish and manage production on their own farm.

Due to global climate change and the current imbalanced social and economic institutions in Nepal, there is a need to implement methods to diversify livelihoods; this holds particularly true for women. The most common form of employment for women in rural areas is in their own household — an unpaid position that cannot provide independent income. In regard to employment outside of the household, women’s jobs appear in planting, weeding and harvesting — all roles where profits are meager.

However, women have proven themselves in these areas. With programs like SSFI, they are able to continue on the journey to self-empowerment and autonomy.

Women and Aquaculture Farming

A 2007 research study by the WorldFish Center, the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science and the Asian Institute of Technology analyzed the introduction of an aquaculture sub-system combined with mixed-crop livestock systems into the Nepalese population and their effects on food access and security, as well as women’s empowerment.

Women who were given the opportunity to own and control a portion of the aquaculture farming system increased their autonomy and ability to make self-decisions within their households and community. The aquaculture farming system is the manifestation of women’s empowerment in Nepal and so far, it is working rather well in improving female independence.

Overall, an introduction of programs such as the ones previously mentioned are powerful in limiting the social and economic burdens faced by women with access to such resources in Nepal. As an added bonus, the aquaculture industry ensures easier and more efficient access to healthy meals for women and their families. After all, the challenges of the day are always easier to manage on a full stomach.

Women like Amatya, who grow up in less economically developed countries such as Nepal, grow up with a dream. In her case, this was a dream made of grand economic and social proportions. She is working every day to break down barriers for rural women and offer empowerment at every step.

The participants of this program now enjoy education, resource access and empowerment through the increase of income and expansion of knowledge. Amatya was originally just one fish swimming in the sea, but now her school of fish and community are growing. It will continue to do so for years to come, and women’s empowerment in Nepal will surface just like the fish they harvest.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr