I acknowledge that we as migrant Nepalese women face significant challenges during the process of settlement in a new country. Migrant women can be disadvantaged as a result of various factors, including financial hardship, imbalanced gender roles, lack of an adequately targeted government or non-government support system, and difficulties relating to adapting to a new language, culture, and legal system. These problems can lead to difficulty in accessing available supports, thus limiting migrant women’s options in building social connections and natural support networks in the community of settlement.
As the rise of Nepalese population in Victoria is continued, along with various multifaceted social conditions as mentioned above, Didi Bahini Samaj Victoria (DBSV), only a Nepalese women’s organisation; has emerged and is striving to implement a simple social agenda of women’s empowerment for the benefits of women. Through our simple and practical activities, we aim for increasing women’s participation in social, economic and cultural spheres, and other developmental areas by building their capacity and confidence so that they can make their own important life decisions, consecutively, to improving Nepalese women’s quality of life.
We believe that when women are firmly connected to their group(s), along with their active engagement in various social activities, they can become empowered to advocate for their own rights and make their own life decisions. Hence, DBSV provides a common platform for women and trying to strengthen our solidarity through innovative community engagement programs, and building strong social networks. We believe empowering ourselves is one of the most powerful ways to achieve higher life satisfaction with better living standards in a new country. Perhaps an imbalance in gender roles in our particular social conditions invites many hidden issues and challenges to emerge, which sometimes requires a coordinated approach to deal with them.
DVSV sees the full participation of women and girls in all aspects of society as critical to the wellbeing of the whole community; hence DBSV is committed to removing the barriers to women being able to reach their full potential, contribute to innovation, and take up a leadership position. We also know, however, that some women experience a range of challenges to their participation and in reaching their full potential. Therefore, DBSV takes vital steps to focus on better understanding the challenges and barriers for particular women in our community and explores what works to improve their lives and their participation.
DBSV, while engaged in the community, is also using our strategic partnerships with mainstream government and non-government organisations, aiming for transformative action toward women’s empowerment and gender equality. For example, in 2017, our “Be the Best” Women’s Wellbeing program reached up to 365 Nepalese women and was successful in enhancing their capacity to maintain their holistic health and wellbeing; and also in 2017, we ran many programs around women’s wellbeing, with the inclusion of various social elements such as yoga, dance, meditation, excursion, mental and spiritual health forum and awareness forum on family violence prevention. This year, our programs are more focused on the theme of women’s capacity and confidence building. Recently, we successfully completed 8 weeks capacity and confidence building program with 31 women participated in the program and we are using social circus approach to build women’s confidence in our next program. We will keenly continue this capacity and confidence building theme along with all DBSV’s programs this year. Next year, however, we are thinking of changing our working norms by calling on men to take responsibility and be accountable for social change – hence the program will be focusing on the involvement of men and families.
DVSV however, cannot achieve this on our own. We need to work in collaboration with other community, government and non-government organisations to remove some of the longstanding barriers to women’s participation. We are particularly proud of the strength of our partnerships with the Moreland City Council, the Uniting Church, Women’s Circus, Melton and Geelong City Councils. We look forward to strengthening our networks in eastern Melbourne through our strategic plan for enlisting the support of various Councils to run community engagement programs in local municipal areas.
I take this opportunity to encourage every individual, community leader, and business leader, government and non-government organisations, and community groups, to support and contribute to making our (DBSV) goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment a reality.
Didi Bahini Samaj Victoria (DBSV)