Nepal: the challenges for women in pregnancy

Women in Nepal do the lion’s share of agricultural work, and it’s common for them to continue working in the fields throughout pregnancy. But this can seriously affect their health, and that of their unborn child.

In the Himalayan nation of Nepal, in the village of Pawati, Januka Rasaeli plants vegetables on her farm. After an hour, she treks back home to chop wood. Before long, she is herding goats on a hillside, under the hot sun.

“From the moment I wake up at 06:00 until I go to sleep at 22:00, I’m doing work the whole time,” she says. “I work about seven or eight hours a day in the fields.”

It is common here for women to do backbreaking work in the fields, but Januka is seven months pregnant. Despite her expanding belly, there is no let up.

“Up until the day the baby is born, I’ll be working all the time,” she says.

In recent years, Nepal has made a big push to improve the health of pregnant women. The government has built new birthing centres. It has covered the cost of delivering babies in clinics. It has given out medication to prevent excessive bleeding, which can be fatal.

These efforts are working. The country has seen a dramatic drop in the number of women dying during childbirth.

Pregnant women work hard in Nepal because they have to support their families, and it is part of the culture.

“That’s the concept women in Nepal are mostly socialised in, that you have to make your presence felt, and your worth is the labour you contribute,” a government minister says. “They are taught to think of themselves as responsible for this kind of work. They have the lowest status inside the family, so they need to do the hardest labour.”

How does God think of these women? What do you hear of his heart as you wait and pray for these women?

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