Saathi which means “friend” in Nepali was established in 1992 by 8 devoted young women to address the contemporary challenges faced by Nepali women. Some of them had just finished their studies while some were working in Ngo, Ingo, media and schools.
At the time this organization was created, the concept of Violence against Women and Girls (VAW&G) was an issue the Nepali legislators, leaders, social workers and statesmen were half aware of. On the contrary, violence against women, particularly domestic violence or battery against women in Nepal was never considered a cause of concern by the Nepali authorities. Violence inflicted upon women within the four walls was accepted as traditional practice. SAATHI was therefore a pioneer organization to come forward and demand right and opportunities for women.
Saathi’s mission is to continue its work in the area of domestic violence and to carry on its fight to safeguard women and children against abuse and coercion, and to empower women and children through the promotion of gender equity and equality based development.
• Elimination of injustice and violence against woman in Nepal and provision of support to victims and their children.
• Elimination of violence and injustice against children and the provision of support to victimized and needy children.
• Collect data through research and the identification of social issue related to urban and rural woman of Nepal.
• Build the capacity of women through awareness raising and skill training.
• Develop and implement plans of action in order to improve the present status of Nepali women and children.
• Work as a pressure group to lobby and pressurize concerned authorities to take the required steps for the advancement of women and children.
Since its start, Saathi has been involved in many awareness programs, advocacy, video shows and talk programs, radio jingles, poster competition for the general public or production and dissemination of IEC (Information, Education, and Communication) materials. To provide relief and support to the victims Saathi has been persistent in generating various life skills opportunities and training to empower and make the victims residing in its shelter independent.
In order to get an in-depth picture of violence prevalent in the Nepali society, Satthi conducted a nationwide survey and on its basis published the research titled “Psycho- social impacts of violence against women with special focus on rape, incest and polygamy” in 1997. The research-highlighted areas that require serious consideration therefore Saathi have been working to design programs and training in accordance to the pressing requirements of the victims.
Currently Saathi offers a wide range of support programs to women and children at risk in Nepal:
• Ashreya Shivir Rehabilitation Centre in Kathmandu for battered and sexually abused women and children.
• Drop-in Centre for Street Children in Kathmandu, a refuge for abused children, street children and orphans.
• Cross Border Programme in Terai, to combat trafficking of women and children and to rehabilitate at-risk and rescued women.
• Saathi Banke Shelter is a shelter for women and children victim of domestic violence and conflict, located in Banke district.
• Women's Skill Training for income generation.
• Cabin Restaurant Support Programme, working to eliminate exploitation of waitresses.
• Child Educational Scholarship Programmes for children victim of violence.
• Social Mobilisation Groups working with local communities: VDC (Village Development Centre), Police, government bodies, national football players, perpetrators, legal representatives and funder INGOs are involved and peer counseling is done to bring about change in the mind of the people.
Saathi, as a key organization, is also pressing for the implementation of existing laws and the formation of new laws to protect women and children against violence and exploitation.
So far SAATHI women shelter has already supported more than 1000 women and 336 children.
Saathi’s strategy is to work at all levels of Nepali society - from the government to the grassroots level. At the policy level, Saathi has been involved, as partner, in drafting key legislation regarding domestic violence and is advocating for the passage of such a bill in the capital. Saathi is also involved in the women’s movement to improve the status of women in Nepal. Recognizing the need to particularly reach the grassroots level in order to achieve its goals, Saathi has established branch offices in the Banke and Bardiya districts of Western Nepal. These Branch offices work towards eliminating violence against women and children and community development and also support women and children victimized by armed conflict. Saathi has recently started working in the area of cross-border trafficking of women and children.