In Dang valley, these seismic national changes are not readily apparent – the region has been controlled by the Maoists for years anyway, and its remoteness gives it a certain insulation from tumult. But times are changing anyway, and perhaps for the better, in part because of the Rural Women’s
She began 15 years ago (just as the valley was first being electrified; now roughly 40% of the people have electricity), organizing small groups of Tharu women (the Tharu are the ethnic minority that live in this part of
And as these women’s groups expanded in number and size, Aasmani saw the need to expand their mission as well. By the time of my trip, she could show me a literacy group teaching girls to read, a landless-peoples group working for the rights of the very poorest Tharu, groups of younger women talking about safe sex and family planning, and groups of mothers talking about how to tell if your pregnancy is encountering problems and you need to see a trained doctor or nurse. All while the microfinance and savings groups continue to empower the women of Dang.
Now, when the local political leaders encounter Aasmani, they know better than to fight her or disparage her work – instead they bow and honor her by way of currying favor with half the population that she understands better than any of them.