Mobilizing millions

Can rural women in Nepal transform the economic and political landscape in their country?

Nari Chetana Kendra (Women Awareness Center Nepal) is proving they can.

WACN works with over 35,000 women and 5,000 children throughout five districts of Nepal to develop women-controlled, grassroots-led economic power. Organized through a network of 42 cooperatives, the women have collectively mobilized over $4 million in capital.

In 2004, a team of independent evaluators called WACN a “market leader in Nepal in micro financing and women’s cooperatives.”

With a tiny central staff and an annual budget of about $50,000, WACN has achieved remarkable results since its founding in 1991.

Each cooperative represents years of collective assessment and community-based planning. They also demonstrate the agricultural expertise of thousands of rural village women, who are developing sustainable infrastructures for generating income. WACN volunteers train their fellow cooperative members in wellness, violence prevention, individual asset management, and organizing for policy change at the local level.

WACN’s advocacy efforts have influenced government banks in Nepal and resulted in the passage of landmark legislation that protects women’s property rights.

WACN’s model proves that women are the leaders of social transformation at the local level, and that they can reimagine wealth.

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