A small group of volunteers is leading a change in gender norms at Nepal’s largest social marketing organization.
In 2017, the SHOPS Plus project trained about 80 Nepal CRS Company employees (66 men and 20 women) on gender integration and mainstreaming. During the workshops, CRS and SHOPS Plus identified training participants to sit on a new gender integration working group. Four women and three men represent the organization’s core departments and support one another in bringing attention to gender.
“A promising first step”
“The strategy [of creating a small internal group] is a promising first step for ensuring gradual change within CRS. The positive signs are the enthusiasm of the group’s members and the support they are receiving from management to make institutional and systematic changes,” said Jeffrey Barnes, chief of party of the SHOPS Plus team in Nepal.
The working group participates in strategy and skill-building workshops led by SHOPS Plus. Additionally, its members will learn how to train other staff in gender integration.
Members agreed to hold biweekly meetings and use WhatsApp to share best practices. On a quarterly basis, they will meet with CRS management to update them on progress and challenges.
Changing restrooms, updating HR manuals
The first of the training workshops for the group took place in early February. Participants developed minimum standards for mainstreaming gender equity. At the end of the workshop, they discussed the standards with CRS management and SHOPS Plus. They are moving forward with some of them. Additionally, management invited the group to propose language that promotes gender equality for inclusion in the organization’s human resources manual.
One standard that CRS management agreed to implement was equipping all restrooms with sanitary napkin disposal systems.
CRS has a long history of being a trailblazer in Nepal, removing cultural and societal taboos associated with contraception. However, corporate leadership recognizes that it should be doing more to integrate gender into the organization.
For the past few years, SHOPS Plus has supported its own internal working group to ensure that gender is integrated throughout the project. This effort is led by the group's members, which are called gender focal points; each represents a regional or support team.
Header photo credit: McKay Savage