Kabita in her electric rickshaw, Nepal. | © G. Bhujel / HI
21-year-old Kabita lives in Banke, a district in Western Nepal. When she was a student, she had a road accident that resulted in a physical disability. Today, Kabita is a successful rickshaw driver.
As a child, Kabita experienced societal stigma and discrimination. Her physical disability and the lack of accessibility in the education system prevented her from continuing her education, like many girls in her community. Thanks to the support of HI and its local partners, Kabita was able to resume her education and begin her dream job.
“I never had a chance to play with other children, attend a wedding or go to a party,” says Kabita. “I could not participate in our cultural rituals in the village. I did not want to attend or participate in any event due to my functional limitations and the behavior of family and community members," she explains.
Due to Kabita’s strong determination, family support and participation in an HI project, she began to see changes in her life. Through the project, she attended a nine-month course designed to help children integrate standard schools. The course, known as a “bridge class”, helped Kabita enhance her literacy and numeracy skills.
Later, she chose to become an electric rickshaw driver. It was quite difficult to convince her family at first, because they perceived driving as a male-dominated profession. She encountered many misconceptions in her community. People would tell her that she couldn't drive a rickshaw, that handling passengers would be difficult, etc. This often shook Kabita’s confidence.
Kabita and her family received counseling from HI and local partner staff to overcome these barriers. As a result, Kabita succeeded in breaking down the stigma associated with disability and the prevailing gender stereotype. She learned to drive with support from HI. The organization also provided her with start-up funds for an electric rickshaw.
"I make really good money and I provide a service for people," Kabita says.
Kabita is now confident in her profession and earns 1000-1700 Nepalese rupees a day, when the average income is between 500-700 rupees. Having already paid six installments, she is saving money for extra batteries and maintenance of her rickshaw. She has set an excellent example that girls with disabilities can pursue their dreams and can be an inspiration for others.
“Women with disabilities are often neglected in their family and society due to their limitations,” says Indra Bista, Disability Inclusion Technical Officer at HI Nepal. “They face many barriers due to an environment that doesn’t include them. They are the last ones to be included in social activities and career development opportunities."
"In remote villages where families live in vulnerable conditions, women with disabilities are more vulnerable than other members of their family," Indra explains. “Whether it's access to education, health and livelihood, they are always denied their rights."
Since August 2018, the project has reached out to 185 girls with disabilities, like Kabita, to support them in finding a decent livelihood and improve their social participation. The project has supported a total of 862 girls, including those with disabilities from marginalized communities, in accessing inclusive quality education across the district of Banke.