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Portrait of Binu
story

| 05 July 2017

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Binu
story

| 27 May 2022

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Rita receiving services
story

| 05 July 2017

Battling stigma against sexual and reproductive health and information

“People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl, you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.” “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said: ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.” Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception. Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Rita receiving services
story

| 27 May 2022

Battling stigma against sexual and reproductive health and information

“People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl, you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.” “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said: ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.” Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception. Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Mona
story

| 05 July 2017

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

“When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona. Stories Read more stories from Nepal Ask for universal access to contraception!

Portrait of Mona
story

| 27 May 2022

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

“When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona. Stories Read more stories from Nepal Ask for universal access to contraception!

Young Nepalese girl receives family planning help from IPPF after forced marriage
story

| 05 March 2017

Forced into marriage at 16

High up in the mountains of Rasuwa in northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border, is the village of Gatlang. This tight-knit village of traditional stone houses and Buddhist stupas is home to the Tamang people: a Buddhist indigenous group for whom family life is strictly patriarchal. Marriage traditions here can be oppressive: when a man chooses a wife, the girls – many are as young as 14 – have little choice but to marry. Most then go on to have large families, meaning food, money and education are spread sparsely. Jomini Tamang was just 16 years old when her parents forced her to marry. “I don’t want to get married,” she told them, but the wedding went ahead anyway. Jomini lives in Gatlang, a remote village of traditional stone and carved wooden houses, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border. The people here are Tamang, a Buddhist ethnic group, and family life is strictly patriarchal. Many Tamang marry young – from around 14 years old – and girls tend to be pushed into marriage by both their parents and the young men who choose them. “It’s not easy being married, it’s difficult,” says Jomini, whose husband is eight years older than her. “When I got married, I didn’t know anything about what happens after marriage, about the physical side.” After a year of marriage, Jomini had her first child, a boy called Gauran, who is now two. Women like Jomini are expected to combine childcare with household chores and long shifts farming vegetables in the village fields. “After the birth, I had many difficulties. Bringing up a child in this remote village was frightening and challenging, and Gauran was ill a lot".   Giving birth at a young age can lead to severe physical complications or death, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death for women in Nepal. Only 60% of women receive skilled antenatal support. Luckily for Jomini, shortly after Gauran’s birth, the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s leading family planning NGO, stepped in to help. Jomini met Pasang Tamang, a local woman who works as a reproductive health female volunteer for FPAN. Through Pasang, Jomini learned about different contraceptive methods and, with careful advice and support, was able to think through which might be best for her. She opted for the contraceptive injection, and says she is much happier now: contraception has given her more freedom, and the space to think clearly about when to have another child. Jomini’s experiences have convinced her to do everything possible to enable her children to live happier lives, less constrained by patriarchy and marriage. If she has a daughter, “I will tell her not to get married at an early age like her mum, and that if she does, she will suffer,” she says. “I will advise her to study more so she can work.” “And I will advise my son the same! Study more and wait til you are more mature to get married.” Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Young Nepalese girl receives family planning help from IPPF after forced marriage
story

| 27 May 2022

Forced into marriage at 16

High up in the mountains of Rasuwa in northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border, is the village of Gatlang. This tight-knit village of traditional stone houses and Buddhist stupas is home to the Tamang people: a Buddhist indigenous group for whom family life is strictly patriarchal. Marriage traditions here can be oppressive: when a man chooses a wife, the girls – many are as young as 14 – have little choice but to marry. Most then go on to have large families, meaning food, money and education are spread sparsely. Jomini Tamang was just 16 years old when her parents forced her to marry. “I don’t want to get married,” she told them, but the wedding went ahead anyway. Jomini lives in Gatlang, a remote village of traditional stone and carved wooden houses, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border. The people here are Tamang, a Buddhist ethnic group, and family life is strictly patriarchal. Many Tamang marry young – from around 14 years old – and girls tend to be pushed into marriage by both their parents and the young men who choose them. “It’s not easy being married, it’s difficult,” says Jomini, whose husband is eight years older than her. “When I got married, I didn’t know anything about what happens after marriage, about the physical side.” After a year of marriage, Jomini had her first child, a boy called Gauran, who is now two. Women like Jomini are expected to combine childcare with household chores and long shifts farming vegetables in the village fields. “After the birth, I had many difficulties. Bringing up a child in this remote village was frightening and challenging, and Gauran was ill a lot".   Giving birth at a young age can lead to severe physical complications or death, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death for women in Nepal. Only 60% of women receive skilled antenatal support. Luckily for Jomini, shortly after Gauran’s birth, the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s leading family planning NGO, stepped in to help. Jomini met Pasang Tamang, a local woman who works as a reproductive health female volunteer for FPAN. Through Pasang, Jomini learned about different contraceptive methods and, with careful advice and support, was able to think through which might be best for her. She opted for the contraceptive injection, and says she is much happier now: contraception has given her more freedom, and the space to think clearly about when to have another child. Jomini’s experiences have convinced her to do everything possible to enable her children to live happier lives, less constrained by patriarchy and marriage. If she has a daughter, “I will tell her not to get married at an early age like her mum, and that if she does, she will suffer,” she says. “I will advise her to study more so she can work.” “And I will advise my son the same! Study more and wait til you are more mature to get married.” Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Binu
story

| 05 July 2017

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Binu
story

| 27 May 2022

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border, lies the district of Rasuwa. The people here are mainly ethnic Tamang and Sherpa, two indigenous groups with cultural traditions stretching back centuries. But these rich cultural traditions can come hand-in-hand with severe social problems, compounded by entrenched poverty and very low literacy rates. Binu Koraila is a health facility mentor for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) in Rasuwa. "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual health, family planning and women’s rights", she says. Misconceptions about contraception are widespread. “People think the intrauterine coil will go into the brain or will fall out. They think the contraceptive implant will penetrate into the muscles.” Funeral rites present another problem. “Men who want a vasectomy need permission from their parents,” she explains. “But it’s thought that men who have had vasectomies won’t be able to perform the rituals after their parent’s death: parents think that God won’t accept that, so they don’t allow men to have vasectomies.” The culture here is strongly patriarchal. Among the Tamang, marriage involves boys or men picking out young girls from their communities.Early and forced marriage is widespread among the Tamang. If chosen, the girls have no choice but to get married. “If a boy likes a girl, they can just snatch them and take them to their house,” Binu says. Some girls are as young as 13 years old. “The girls don’t know enough about family planning, so there is a lot of teenage pregnancy.” Early marriage and teenage pregnancy can create all kinds of physical, emotional, social and economic problems for girls and their families. For many, their bodies are not well developed enough for childbirth, and maternal mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, at 258 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA data. Their large families also suffer because there is not enough food and money to go around. “Women are the worst affected,” Binu says. Parents and husbands keep strict control of women’s access to contraception. “If they want to use contraception, women tend to need consent from their parents or husbands. “I have seen cases where if a woman gets contraceptive implant services, they get beaten by their father-in-law and husband. One woman asked to have her implant removed because she had been beaten by her husband.” Binu’s role is to deliver sexual health and family planning advice and services to villages across Rasuwa district: “I go to remote places, where people are marginalised and don’t know about family planning.” She also trains government health workers on family planning, and mentors them after they return from training in Kathmandu to Rasuwa. As well as delivering health services, the FPAN team have been working hard to change perceptions. “Recently we had a health camp at Gatland,” she explains. "After two hours of counselling one client requested an IUD. After months there was a rumour in Gatlang that her coil had fallen out. The FPAN volunteer went to the woman’s house and asked if this was true. She said, ‘No, I’m really comfortable with that service.’ After that, the client went door to door and told others how happy she was with it and that they should take it at the next family planning camp. “After four or five months, we went back to the Gatlang camp and at that time another eight women took the IUD.” These numbers might seem small but they are far less so when viewed against the wall of stigma and myth that can obstruct contraception use here, as in so many rural areas of Nepal. The involvement of committed, passionate health mentors and volunteers is vital to show people how important it is to take sexual health and family planning seriously: the benefits are felt not just by women and their families, but by entire communities. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Rita receiving services
story

| 05 July 2017

Battling stigma against sexual and reproductive health and information

“People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl, you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.” “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said: ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.” Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception. Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Rita receiving services
story

| 27 May 2022

Battling stigma against sexual and reproductive health and information

“People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl, you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.” “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said: ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.” Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception. Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring. Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Portrait of Mona
story

| 05 July 2017

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

“When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona. Stories Read more stories from Nepal Ask for universal access to contraception!

Portrait of Mona
story

| 27 May 2022

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

“When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona. Stories Read more stories from Nepal Ask for universal access to contraception!

Young Nepalese girl receives family planning help from IPPF after forced marriage
story

| 05 March 2017

Forced into marriage at 16

High up in the mountains of Rasuwa in northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border, is the village of Gatlang. This tight-knit village of traditional stone houses and Buddhist stupas is home to the Tamang people: a Buddhist indigenous group for whom family life is strictly patriarchal. Marriage traditions here can be oppressive: when a man chooses a wife, the girls – many are as young as 14 – have little choice but to marry. Most then go on to have large families, meaning food, money and education are spread sparsely. Jomini Tamang was just 16 years old when her parents forced her to marry. “I don’t want to get married,” she told them, but the wedding went ahead anyway. Jomini lives in Gatlang, a remote village of traditional stone and carved wooden houses, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border. The people here are Tamang, a Buddhist ethnic group, and family life is strictly patriarchal. Many Tamang marry young – from around 14 years old – and girls tend to be pushed into marriage by both their parents and the young men who choose them. “It’s not easy being married, it’s difficult,” says Jomini, whose husband is eight years older than her. “When I got married, I didn’t know anything about what happens after marriage, about the physical side.” After a year of marriage, Jomini had her first child, a boy called Gauran, who is now two. Women like Jomini are expected to combine childcare with household chores and long shifts farming vegetables in the village fields. “After the birth, I had many difficulties. Bringing up a child in this remote village was frightening and challenging, and Gauran was ill a lot".   Giving birth at a young age can lead to severe physical complications or death, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death for women in Nepal. Only 60% of women receive skilled antenatal support. Luckily for Jomini, shortly after Gauran’s birth, the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s leading family planning NGO, stepped in to help. Jomini met Pasang Tamang, a local woman who works as a reproductive health female volunteer for FPAN. Through Pasang, Jomini learned about different contraceptive methods and, with careful advice and support, was able to think through which might be best for her. She opted for the contraceptive injection, and says she is much happier now: contraception has given her more freedom, and the space to think clearly about when to have another child. Jomini’s experiences have convinced her to do everything possible to enable her children to live happier lives, less constrained by patriarchy and marriage. If she has a daughter, “I will tell her not to get married at an early age like her mum, and that if she does, she will suffer,” she says. “I will advise her to study more so she can work.” “And I will advise my son the same! Study more and wait til you are more mature to get married.” Stories Read more stories from Nepal

Young Nepalese girl receives family planning help from IPPF after forced marriage
story

| 27 May 2022

Forced into marriage at 16

High up in the mountains of Rasuwa in northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border, is the village of Gatlang. This tight-knit village of traditional stone houses and Buddhist stupas is home to the Tamang people: a Buddhist indigenous group for whom family life is strictly patriarchal. Marriage traditions here can be oppressive: when a man chooses a wife, the girls – many are as young as 14 – have little choice but to marry. Most then go on to have large families, meaning food, money and education are spread sparsely. Jomini Tamang was just 16 years old when her parents forced her to marry. “I don’t want to get married,” she told them, but the wedding went ahead anyway. Jomini lives in Gatlang, a remote village of traditional stone and carved wooden houses, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, close to the Tibetan border. The people here are Tamang, a Buddhist ethnic group, and family life is strictly patriarchal. Many Tamang marry young – from around 14 years old – and girls tend to be pushed into marriage by both their parents and the young men who choose them. “It’s not easy being married, it’s difficult,” says Jomini, whose husband is eight years older than her. “When I got married, I didn’t know anything about what happens after marriage, about the physical side.” After a year of marriage, Jomini had her first child, a boy called Gauran, who is now two. Women like Jomini are expected to combine childcare with household chores and long shifts farming vegetables in the village fields. “After the birth, I had many difficulties. Bringing up a child in this remote village was frightening and challenging, and Gauran was ill a lot".   Giving birth at a young age can lead to severe physical complications or death, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death for women in Nepal. Only 60% of women receive skilled antenatal support. Luckily for Jomini, shortly after Gauran’s birth, the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s leading family planning NGO, stepped in to help. Jomini met Pasang Tamang, a local woman who works as a reproductive health female volunteer for FPAN. Through Pasang, Jomini learned about different contraceptive methods and, with careful advice and support, was able to think through which might be best for her. She opted for the contraceptive injection, and says she is much happier now: contraception has given her more freedom, and the space to think clearly about when to have another child. Jomini’s experiences have convinced her to do everything possible to enable her children to live happier lives, less constrained by patriarchy and marriage. If she has a daughter, “I will tell her not to get married at an early age like her mum, and that if she does, she will suffer,” she says. “I will advise her to study more so she can work.” “And I will advise my son the same! Study more and wait til you are more mature to get married.” Stories Read more stories from Nepal