This page provides a general overview of the strategies that CAED employs across the full spectrum of its operations.
CAED strongly believes in empowering members of marginalized groups in order to fulfill its mission to create self-sustainable societies. This approach enables them to become agents of change within their communities and gives them ownership over the transformation of their lives and societies.
CAED has been empowering thousands of individuals for over 25 years through the awareness-raising and training sessions that it regularly convenes as part of its programs. Such workshops are mainly aimed at girls, women, and members of the Dalit and indigenous communities, but CAED also includes husbands, boys and other influential members of local communities in its programs, to create widespread awareness of the underlying causes of inequitable development. These workshops give various stakeholders the tools they need to effect positive change for the fulfilment of their rights and betterment of their communities.
Model Couple Campaigners
Manju and her husband have received training and education on (agricultural) techniques to improve their livelihoods, as well as strategies to balance the distribution of labour and power within their relationship. This has improved their overall productivity and income, setting a good example for their son Muskan and making them role models in their community.
Manju and Muskan
A critical first step to empowerment is to sensitize the relevant population to fundamental issues that are hampering equitable development. For example, the patriarchal mind-set that prevails in the areas in which CAED operates drives young women into underage marriage and premature childbirth. This has negative effects on the physical and mental health of large groups of women, undermining their well-being as they face the consequences of this deeply-rooted mind-set, such as uterine prolapse. This patriarchal attitude, as well as caste-based discrimination, result in the under-realization of full human and social capital in the communities in question. In order to begin a trajectory of equitable and sustainable development, therefore, the participants of CAED’s programs need to be sensitized to the underlying causes of inequality or ineffective realization of human capital.
The trainings and workshops also introduce participants to knowledge and skills that can readily be put into practice. As part of the Karnali Livelihood Empowerment Program, for example, beneficiaries receive training on crop diversification, the planting and nurturing of species that better serve their needs, farmyard fertilization and soil improvement practices and strategies. Similarly, under the Women, Girls and Child Rights Program, adolescent boys and girls engage with topics relating to sexual and reproductive health through interactive learning opportunities. As part of their training they even learn very practical skills, such as how to make reusable sanitary pads.
Under the Women, Girls and Child Rights Program, Kalpana and 49 other peers from her school attend quarterly “life skills” trainings to learn about sexual and reproductive rights and health, principles of gender equality, and strategies to challenge harmful practices (such as child marriage) in their communities. “The trainings give me the confidence to talk about these issues,” Kalpana says.
Finally, one of the most important components of CAED’s empowerment strategy is the breaking down of harmful taboos and the building of confidence and self-worth among each of the programs’ beneficiaries. Many of these people grapple with issues that are extremely difficult to discuss with other members of their communities, but that nevertheless cause them great suffering. Notable examples include women who have a fully-prolapsed uterus, underage girls who do not wish to marry the husband her parents have chosen, or a member of the Dalit community who questions his true place in society. CAED creates a safe environment as part of its program implementation in which these issues can be freely explored by participants. Its training staff offer such persons support and advice, and incorporate strategies for culturally-effective communication into their curriculum. This helps to give participants the confidence they need to challenge harmful practices with the people around them, ensuring that social change ultimately emerges from within the affected communities.
In addition to providing marginalized groups with the tools they need to effect the changes they want to see in their lives, CAED understands the importance of drawing attention to their plight. In fulfilling its mandate to advocate for the rights of its beneficiaries, the organisation seeks to hold elected officials to account for the development and implementation of effective policies to address the root causes of human rights violations and latent development.
As part of its advocacy efforts, CAED regularly convenes workshops and events for policy-makers and government officials that highlight the policy concerns of the challenges that its beneficiaries face. Within the federal structure of Nepal, CAED helps to improve policy formulation and implementation at the federal, provincial and district levels. This way, all levels of governmental decision-making are targeted with a view to thoroughly improve service delivery and accountability towards the marginalized groups that CAED supports.
Over the years, CAED has developed a method of tackling development and human rights challenges by maximizing the potential for advocacy at the community level. Using CAED’s country-wide network of community-based grassroots NGOs, program delivery can be undertaken by local activists who are intimately familiar with the specific needs and challenges of the community in question. Such persons are trained by CAED, which also supervises their work. The beneficiaries of trainings and awareness-raising programs are more receptive to knowledge and understanding that is imparted on them by familiar faces. The partner NGOs are furthermore best placed to monitor the progress of CAED’s programs, due to the fact that they spend almost all of their time in the communities where such programs are implemented.