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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.
“People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. They called me many bad things.” Rita Chawal recalls her time as a family planning youth volunteer for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception.
“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.”
Jomini, from rural Nepal, was just 16 when her parents forced her to marry a man 8 years older than her. "I didn't know anything about the physical side" she says, but IPPF provided family planning.
After noticing women in his community suffering, he took the initiative of opening a family planning clinic within the village.
For millions of Nepali women, the only professional care they receive during pregnancy is from nurses and midwives, not doctors.
IPPF volunteers in Nepal work to empower women with contraceptive choices that will benefit their lifestyle, and also work with husbands in the community to break down patriarchal attitudes that impact women's health.