Annex 2015



Women and Girls at the Heart of Development

“Whatever pain I have to bear, I will bear,” Tanka Kumari Bisunke says quietly. “I just want my children to be healthy, to eat well, to have clothes to wear, and go to school. That would be my biggest happiness.”

Tanka Kumari and her husband Setu live with their three children in Sitalpati, a remote village in the Sindhuli District of Nepal. Life is very hard here, and the couple struggles to make ends meet. Their constant concern is earning enough to feed and clothe their children. The two youngest attend school, but the eldest son stays home to help with household chores while both parents work.

For years now, Tanka Kumari has regularly walked an hour and half to the nearest health care center to get contraceptive injections. She and Setu decided long ago that they could not afford to have more children. Tanka Kumari herself grew up in a family of 13 children, only 4 of whom survived to adulthood. Her memories of childhood are a blur of hunger and poverty.

In April 2015 a devastating earthquake struck Nepal, and everything changed. Tanka Kumari remembers working in the fields when the ground began to shake. In a panic, she raced home to find her husband and children. They all spent the night in an open field, and have been unable to return to their damaged home since. In the chaos of the following days, the family planning card she used to track her contraceptive injections disappeared.

Unable to determine when she was due for her next shot, Tanka Kumari became pregnant. She is now expecting her fourth child, and she is afraid. She worries about the wellbeing of her children and about their future. She worries that she won’t be able to give them the things they need—the things she didn’t have.

Tanka Kumari’s story is a reminder that women’s reproductive health needs don’t disappear in times of crisis. Access to quality health care and family planning remains essential.

“All I want is for my children to be healthy and well,” she says.

Gyan Chandra Rajbanshi, the Sitalpati health post chief, provides counseling to the Bisunkes and other families in the district. With the support of the Nepalese government and UNFPA Nepal, he is working to analyze the local use of family planning. The results will help health officials develop strategies to improve women’s access to contraceptive information and supplies.

“Life is hard for the women here,” Gyan Chandra says. “They take care of the children and cattle, make sure the meals are prepared, cater to husbands, and give birth to children over and over again. Every woman should have the right to make informed decisions about the size of her family.”

Tanka Kumari is already planning to resume contraception as soon as she can. In their counseling session with Gyan Chandra, she and Setu decide that after the baby is born, they’ll find a longer-term contraceptive method to use.

“Sometimes we learn a big lesson of life when it’s already too late,” she says. “I am sharing my experiences with other couples so that they can learn something in time. After my children grow up, I will teach them to decide how many children they should have.”


Women and girls face special challenges in crisis situations, and access to family planning and other reproductive health services is essential.

FP2020 wishes to thank partners in Nepal for help documenting the impact of the April 2015 earthquake on the ability of women and girls to access family planning information, services, and supplies.

Photo by: Prashant Panjiar/FP2020

Chapter xx xx
xx xx