In this video, Ganga Gautam, 2016 Echidna Global Scholar and professor of English at Tribhuvan University in Nepal, describes the state of girls’ education in rural Nepal. His research details the key barriers that adolescent girls face to staying in school. The research is centered on a girls’ empowerment program that he and a team of local leaders led in Nepal with 75 girls from across 15 schools. The program spanned five days and was designed to demystify taboo topics for adolescent girls, their parents, and their teachers, as well as to offer girls the opportunities to develop life skills such as leadership, time management, and problem solving.
One year after the program, Ganga interviewed half of the original participants and found that all remained in school. Fifty percent reported better communication with their parents, 40 percent reported fewer chores, and the girls stopped three early marriages. While the program was limited in scope, Ganga finds sufficient evidence to justify expansion of the program, while addressing key gaps from the pilot program.