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Amplifying WYM Voices: USAID CSM Bridges the Gap Between Marginalized Communities and Journalists

Program Year: 2023

In Nepal, our USAID Civil Society and Media (CSM) program fostered dialogue between Women, Youth, and Marginalized (WYM) communities in Madhesh Province and senior journalists from Kathmandu and Dhanusa districts of the Province on underlying sociocultural and economic issues. The team of 11 journalists from online, print, and broadcast media met with marginalized and ultra-marginalized (Ram, Musahar, Dusadh, Chamar, Sudi, Teli, Lohar, and Muslims) people from three different communities in and around Janakpur to discuss various issues. The issues discussed ranged from usurious money lending to public education, citizenship, child marriage, recurring floods, brewing conflict between different religious groups, discrimination, and untouchability.

Samundri Devi Paswan of Jhijha expressed her challenge in securing a small loan to fulfill basic needs. “Life has become really hard. We are not even getting loans to fulfill our basic necessities,” Samundri remarked. For hundreds of people from the WYM community in Dhanusha, refusal from loan sharks to lend even a fringe amount has resulted in the inability to fulfill basic needs.

Participants also discussed the effectiveness of a newly enacted law that includes a provision for a seven-year jail term and a Rs 70,000 penalty for those found guilty of making usurious lending.

Sudeep Shrestha, editor of Setopati, said, “We were under the impression the government’s newly drafted law had addressed the issue. However, I got to know that a concrete solution was not provided to the general people. We can see this is bringing new problems among the communities, and this is one of the issues that needs to be widely reported.”

The journalists discussed their community interactions, stressing the importance of bridging federal-local gaps to lessen inequities prevalent in the margins of the country’s southern plains, aiming to address citizenship and discrimination issues, even within marginalized communities, and alleviate social stigma.

Funded by USAID through the Civil Society and Media – Standing Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND) Leader with Associate (LWA) award, the Foundation is implementing a $18.5 million program in Lumbini and Madhesh Province of Nepal. The program’s overarching goal is to support independent civil society and media led by and for Women, Youth, and Marginalized (WYM) communities through innovative interventions, challenge funds, and grants designed through co-creation workshops.

Related locations: Nepal
Related programs: Good Governance

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