“Ultimately, we plan to create a natural and pristine environment and cultivate rudraksha commercially. This along with religious tourism will provide regular income for our municipality,” Pandey adds.
The municipality is also working to raise income of female-led households by training women to produce value added goods from maize husk, and is already engaging them in knitting winter wear. The municipality then takes the responsibility of marketting the products.
An inter-generational skill transfer program is also in operation so that the village doesn’t have to rely only on outside trainers to learn new skills.
About two years ago when the municipality advertised for two employees, some 60 single women applied for the job. During the interviews, they shared their hardships in finding a reliable source of income. While the municipality office wasn’t able to employ them all, this gave Paudel a much-needed push to plan a program specifically targetting single women.
“Women in rural areas, especially single women, do not have a reliable source of income. Society looks down on them. But that won’t be the case if the local government steps in to support them,” says Pandey.
Since last year, the municipality has started allocating a budget for ‘Single Women’s School’ under which widows come up with their owns plans for regular income generation.