One of the Largest networking umbrella organizations in Nepal
Advocacy on International Platforms
Fostering Intergenerational Knowledge transfer
About Us
About Us

Indigenous women of Nepal face multiple forms of discrimination. Indigenous women, being indigenous peoples, face racial, linguistic, religious, cultural, economic, political discrimination and exclusion. Also, indigenous women, being women, face gender discrimination. Thus, indigenous women are victimized by ideologies, policies and practices of Bahunbad (Brahmanism) and patriarchy.

Empowerment and strengthening of indigenous women is a must to end all forms of racial and gender discrimination, exploitation, suppression and oppression against indigenous women. Acceptance of multi-caste and ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural reality of Nepali society by the people’s movement of 1990 has indeed paved a way for non-governmental organizations to contribute for empowerment and strengthening of indigenous peoples, women and other excluded groups and communities. There was growing realization for a need of organized efforts by indigenous women to make development programs for women and indigenous peoples successful, to organize and empower indigenous women from local to national levels on common issues of women, and to work for equity and equality by having common objectives on women’s common issues. It was in this backdrop that the National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) was founded in 1998.

There are not only common problems and issues of indigenous women and other women and also of indigenous women and indigenous men but also distinct problems and issues that are unique to indigenous women. Therefore, the National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) was established to support and raise awareness of indigenous women, to intensify advocacy for securing rights of indigenous women and indigenous children, and to run programs with focus on advocacy, training, discussion, interaction, study, and research as needed.

Empowering Women
Our objective is to empower Indigenous Women to become the primary defenders and proponents for securing their rights, as previously highlighted in the GR-39 and CEDAW reports from past years. By doing so, we aim to capacitate Indigenous Women and provide them with the necessary tools and knowledge to advocate for their rights and achieve gender equality in their communities.
Our Misson
Advocate ensuring the rights of highly marginalized and endangered indigenous people particularly women.
Promoting the social, cultural, political and economical rights of indigenous women
Intervening in areas where Indigenous women needs support by finding out and assessing the social situation of indigenous women.
Assisting Indigenous women in mobilizing resources from local, national and other sources so as to make them economically independent.
To increase awareness level of people on the issues of indigenous women widely through publications of different types of publications.
To organize exploited and marginalized women so that they are able to understand their rights and work to ensure their rights and aware the community on various issues such trafficking of women.
Empower Indigenous Women:
Our Work
What We Do
‍NIWF’s support indigenous women to be an equal partner in the national development.
National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) plays a pivotal role in lobbying for the rights of Indigenous Women, ensuring that their voices are heard at all levels of governance. By engaging with politicians, lawmakers, and other key stakeholders, as well as participating in regional and international platforms, NIWF strives to make the state and other relevant bodies responsible and accountable for upholding and advancing the rights of Indigenous Women. NIWF actively lobbies politicians and lawmakers to promote policies that protect and empower Indigenous Women. Our approach includes direct meetings, policy briefings, and presenting evidence-based research to inform and influence legislative processes. By maintaining a persistent presence in political arenas, we ensure that the issues affecting Indigenous Women are prioritized and addressed in policy discussions and decision-making. NIWF is dedicated to lobbying for the rights of Indigenous Women and Girls at all levels of governance. Our comprehensive approach, rooted in research and collaboration, ensures that the voices of Indigenous Women are heard and that their rights are prioritized in policy and practice.
Leadership Development & Advocacy
National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) is dedicated to fostering the leadership potential of Indigenous Women and Girls. Recognizing the critical role that leadership plays in empowering Communities and driving social change, NIWF offers a range of training, workshops, and programs designed to develop and enhance the leadership skills of Indigenous Women and Girls. NIWF's leadership development programs are designed to address the unique challenges faced by Indigenous Women and Girls. Through these initiatives, NIWF not only equips individuals with the tools they need to lead effectively but also strengthens the broader movement for Indigenous rights and social justice. NIWF is committed to nurturing the next generation of Indigenous leaders. Our programs for young leaders are designed to inspire and engage Indigenous Girls, providing them with early exposure to leadership and advocacy. Our work in this area is a testament to our commitment to social justice, equality, and the empowerment of Indigenous Communities.
Human Rights
Since its establishment, the National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) has been steadfastly dedicated to advancing the human rights of Indigenous women and girls. Our commitment to human rights is reflected in our comprehensive approach, which spans grassroots initiatives to high-level policy advocacy. NIWF ensures meaningful and result-oriented engagement at all levels, advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples through persistent advocacy and strategic lobbying. NIWF recognizes the unique challenges faced by Indigenous Women and Girls, who often experience compounded discrimination based on their gender and ethnicity. NIWF’s advocacy efforts focus on promoting their rights and addressing issues such as violence, discrimination, lack of access to education and healthcare, and economic marginalization. NIWF works to amplify their voices, ensuring they are heard and respected in all spheres of life. At the grassroots level, NIWF engages directly with Indigenous Communities to understand their needs, aspirations, and challenges. NIWF conducts workshops, training sessions, and awareness campaigns to educate Indigenous Women and Girls about their rights. NIWF extends its advocacy efforts to the policy-making arena, where NIWF strives to influence laws, policies, and practices that impact Indigenous Peoples. Our policy advocacy is based on rigorous research and grounded in the lived experiences of Indigenous Women and Girls. We engage with policymakers, government officials and stakeholders to push for legislative reforms and the implementation of policies that protect and promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Research & Publication
Research and Publication are integral to the mission of the National Indigenous Women Forum. Through empirical research, policy reviews, and the dissemination of our findings, NIWF strives to bring Indigenous issues to the forefront and advocate for meaningful change. NIWF’s work not only informs and educates but also empowers Indigenous Communities by amplifying their voices and experiences. NIWF believes that well-informed advocacy, grounded in solid research, is essential for achieving justice, equality, and respect for Indigenous Peoples. NIWF conducts extensive empirical research on a wide range of Indigenous issues. This research is designed to uncover the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples, identify systemic challenges, and document the cultural, social, and economic realities within these Indigenous Communities. Our research methodology is rooted in participatory approaches, ensuring that Indigenous voices are not only heard but are integral to the research process. By engaging directly with Community members, we gather qualitative and quantitative data that reflects the authentic perspectives of Indigenous Peoples.
Youth Initiative
National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) is dedicated to fostering the empowerment of Indigenous Girls and Youth through a variety of training programs, workshops, and initiatives. Understanding the unique challenges faced by young Indigenous individuals, NIWF has made it a priority to provide them with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to thrive. Focus for Indigenous Girls (FIG) operates as a sister organization to NIWF, with a specialized focus on raising awareness and addressing critical issues among Indigenous Girls and Youth. FIG aims to educate and empower young Indigenous individuals on topics such as climate change, sex, gender, sexuality, and gender-based violence. By tackling these vital issues, FIG seeks to create a generation of informed and empowered leaders who can advocate for themselves and their communities. In 2023, NIWF launched Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF), an initiative aimed at providing educational opportunities to Indigenous Girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This fund offers scholarships that enable these Young Indigenous Girls to pursue their education and achieve their academic goals. The work of National Indigenous Women Forum and Focus for Indigenous Girls represents a holistic approach to empowerment. Through awareness campaigns, education, leadership training, and financial support, NIWF and FIG are making significant strides in improving the lives of Indigenous Girls and Youth. Their efforts ensure that the next generation of Indigenous leaders is well-prepared to address the complex issues of today and tomorrow, driving positive change within their Communities and beyond.
National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Indigenous knowledge, languages, cultures, and traditions. Recognizing the profound value these elements hold, NIWF has made it their mission to document and safeguard them for future generations. Indigenous knowledge, in particular, offers invaluable solutions to contemporary challenges like climate change, making its preservation crucial. Indigenous knowledge encompasses a deep understanding of the natural world, developed over centuries through close interaction with the environment. This knowledge includes sustainable agricultural practices, natural resource management, and climate adaptation strategies that have been honed to perfection. By documenting and disseminating this knowledge, NIWF ensures that these time-tested solutions remain accessible and can be integrated into broader climate action efforts. One of NIWF’s significant initiatives is the documentation of the Bankariya Community’s language. The Bankariya are an endangered Indigenous community in Nepal, with their language at risk of extinction. With only a few elders fluent in the mother tongue, the language is perilously close to disappearing. This loss would mean the erasure of a vital component of the community’s identity, culture, and history. Documentation is important in preservation of Identity and Culture, Educational and Research Value, Empowerment and Advocacy. The work of NIWF in documenting Indigenous knowledge, languages, and cultures is a vital endeavour. It ensures that the wisdom and traditions of Indigenous Peoples are preserved for future generations, while also providing crucial solutions to modern challenges such as climate change. Through these efforts, NIWF is fostering a more inclusive, sustainable, and culturally rich world.
Climate Justice
Indigenous Peoples, particularly Indigenous Women, are among the most vulnerable populations affected by climate change. The unique challenges they face require tailored solutions that not only address immediate needs but also promote long-term sustainability and resilience. The National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) has recognized this critical need and has been at the forefront of advocating for climate justice. To empower Indigenous Women and their communities, NIWF has initiated a series of comprehensive Climate Smart Farming training programs. These programs are specifically designed to help Indigenous Women Groups develop sustainable agricultural practices that enable them to produce fresh vegetables throughout the year, including off-season periods. By implementing these practices, the women can sustain themselves and their families, ensuring food security and economic stability. One of the most significant achievements of NIWF’s training programs has been the substantial reduction in the use of chemical pesticides. The women have embraced environmentally friendly farming techniques, which are beneficial not only for their health but also for the preservation of their natural surroundings. This shift towards organic farming practices contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem, promoting biodiversity and reducing environmental pollution. Achieving climate justice requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of climate change. It involves ensuring that the voices of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities are heard and that their rights and needs are prioritised and NIWF works to bring forth Indigenous Peoples voices.
Economic Empowerment
Since its establishment in 1998, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) has been steadfast in its mission to economically empower Indigenous Communities. By offering a diverse range of training programs and workshops, NIWF ensures that the specific needs and demands of these Indigenous Communities are effectively addressed. A cornerstone of NIWF's initiatives is the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training, which has been instrumental in empowering Indigenous Women groups through sustainable agricultural practices. This training not only enhances their agricultural productivity but also fosters economic independence, allowing them to support their families and communities more effectively. In addition to agricultural training, NIWF has introduced soap-making workshops tailored for the Bankariya and Chepang Women groups. These workshops provide the skills necessary for these women to produce and market soap, creating a reliable source of income and promoting self-sufficiency. The success of these programs is evident in the improved economic conditions and enhanced quality of life for the participants. NIWF's commitment to economic empowerment extends beyond agriculture and soap making. NIWF has also facilitated training in pickle making and knitting, providing Indigenous Women with a variety of skills to generate income. These trainings are designed not only to impart technical skills but also to encourage entrepreneurship and business acumen among the participants. Furthermore, NIWF places a strong emphasis on leadership development. By offering leadership training programs, the organization aims to equip Indigenous Women with the confidence and skills needed to take on leadership roles within their Communities. These programs are crucial for fostering a sense of agency and empowering Women to advocate for their rights and the rights of their Communities. Through its comprehensive and multifaceted approach, NIWF has made significant strides in economically empowering Indigenous Women. The organization’s efforts have led to sustainable economic development, greater financial independence, and improved social standing for many women within Indigenous communities. NIWF remains committed to continuing its work, adapting its programs to meet evolving needs, and expanding its reach to empower even more Indigenous Women in the future.
Our News
Latest Updates
2024-06-17 12:45:02
2nd Indigenous and Local Knowledge Dialogue for the Global Environment Outlook 7

From June 11-13, 2024, Ms. Saraswati Sherpa, the Program Officer of the National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), attended the 2nd Indigenous and Local Knowledge Dialogue for the Global Environment Outlook 7 (GEO-7) held in Oaxaca, Mexico. This event was a significant milestone in the effort to incorporate the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities into the GEO-7 report. The dialogue aimed to enhance the preparation of the GEO-7 assessment by integrating Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Local Knowledge (LK), which are vital for a comprehensive understanding of environmental challenges and solutions. The 2nd IK&LK Dialogue is a follow-up to the first dialogue held earlier in 2024, which took place virtually. These dialogues are part of a broader initiative to ensure that the insights and wisdom of Indigenous and local communities are reflected in global environmental assessments. The inclusion of IK&LK is crucial for developing sustainable and culturally relevant strategies to address environmental issues.The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a series of reports produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that review the state and direction of the global environment. These reports are developed through a global process involving regional, national, and local inputs from around the world. GEO reports provide an authoritative assessment of the environmental challenges facing the planet and offer solutions based on scientific analysis and the knowledge of diverse communities. The program on Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge Dialogue supports the preparation of the GEO-7 report by providing a platform for Indigenous and local perspectives. This approach acknowledges the value of traditional ecological knowledge and the lived experiences of communities who are often on the frontlines of environmental change. By incorporating IK&LK, GEO-7 aims to offer more holistic and inclusive solutions to global environmental issues.

In summary, the 2nd IK&LK Dialogue for GEO-7 in Oaxaca, attended by Ms. Saraswati Sherpa, underscores the importance of integrating diverse knowledge systems into global environmental assessments. This initiative by UNEP reflects a commitment to inclusive and participatory processes in addressing the complex environmental challenges of our time.

Photo Description: NIWF's Program Officer Ms. Saraswati Sherpa sharing her insights.

Photo Description: Offerings from the participants in Day 1.
2024-05-31 14:59:58
Press Conference on WHRIA Pilot Test Findings - Addressing Gendered Impacts of Development Projects

On 30th May 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum(NIWF) in collaboration with Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) conducted a press release on the findings of "Women Human Rights Impact Assessment (WHRIA) Pilot Test: Addressing Gendered Impacts of Development Projects". “The Sunkoshi river is connected to our identity and existence; if the hydropower project destroys the river, our existence, identity – language, rituals, culture – will be destroyed as well.” This was the resounding call of the Women from Kunauri and Bhatauli Communities who lamented the life-changing impacts of the Sunkoshi hydropower dam. Indigenous Communities are facing the threats of forced displacement and the subsequent loss of livelihoods, potential discrimination in enjoyment of economic and social rights, and the disruption to the beliefs and practice of cultural rituals and traditions that are essential rights of the Majhi Indigenous Peoples. Women will also face additional struggle of fending for their family.

“What is the point of land if there is no river?” said Mamta Mahji, a Woman leader in the Community. “Our rituals and rites are intimately connected to the Sunkoshi river. It is our life, it is for the celebration of birth, marriage, and death. How can we honour our ancestors if we lose our river?”

“The current global model of development, which hinges on the indiscriminate use and conversion of the rich natural resources, is detrimental to Indigenous, rural Women,” said Eloisa Delos Reyes Programme Officer of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development. “Losing their access to forest and rivers that they have long been conserving and sustainably using will exacerbate the crises the Women are facing, and will double on women’s ability to sustain their livelihood and enjoy their economic and social rights, and furthering climate impacts.”

“Indigenous Peoples, including Majhi, are solutions, not problems to accelerating the climate crisis. Hence, there is an urgency to save Indigenous Peoples like Majhi to save our planet, Mother Earth. Therefore, we call upon the Nepal government, specially the Department of Electricity Development (DoED), business companies, national and international investors, and international development partners to meaningfully comply with the UNDRIP, ILO Convention No. 169, CEDAW GR. No. 39 and other international human rights,” said Yasso Kanti Bhattachan, Vice-chairperson of NIWF.

2024-05-31 12:37:17
Women Human Rights Impact Assessment (WHRIA) Pilot Test: Addressing Gendered Impacts of Development Projects

In 2018-2020, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), conducted the Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) that revealed the gendered impacts of the Sunkoshi-II Hydropower Dam that the Mahji Indigenous Community was facing. Along the course of the participatory study, it was determined that the Indigenous Women in the target site for the development project are unaware of the construction that will threaten their human rights, lives and livelihood including those of the others in the Communities. Currently, not much is known about the status of the Sunkoshi-II and Sunkoshi-III projects. Public hearings and consultations have supposedly been announced where various groups and sectors were encouraged to participate and chime in with regards to the possible impact of the development project. However, with the lack of diverse sources for news or updates on the hydropower dam, the development projects appear to remain shrouded in secrecy and lack of transparency.

Protecting the rights of the Indigenous Women and Communities against these threats entail strengthening their capacity to analyze and discern the possible impacts of these development projects. It also entails exercising their rights to information, participation and self-determination, thus the close understanding and application of FPIC is a must among the affected communities. From 28 to 29 May 2024, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), together with the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) conducted the Women Human Rights Impact Assessment (WHRIA). The impact assessment was conducted in the Majhi Communities in Manthali to determine the status of the hydropower dam project and assess the human rights situation of the Indigenous Women, particularly in exercising their right for participation, access to information and self-determination. The groups also looked at the potential impacts of the development project that threatens the very existence of the Mahji people and endangers their culture and lives. WHRIA aims to serve as a tool for grassroots women’s organisations in their advocacy against development projects that can harm their lives and livelihoods. Through community visits, dialogues, and media actions, the pilot test aimed to gather vital information, document community narratives, identify human rights violations, and chart pathways for advocacy and action.

2024-05-27 16:35:32
Consultation meeting on "Preliminary Position Paper Draft on the Inclusive and Sustainable Implementation of the Reintegration Programme 2079" in Chautara Sagachokgadhi Municipality.

On May 17, 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF), supported by Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), conducted a consultation meeting on the "Preliminary Position Paper Draft on the Inclusive and Sustainable Implementation of the Reintegration Programme 2079" in Chautara Sagachokgadhi Municipality. The event gathered local stakeholders, including human rights defenders, journalists, government representatives, local NGOs, media, and the SaMi Project, to discuss the effective economic reintegration of Returnee Migrant Women and Indigenous Women in the municipality.

Sanu Maya Tamang, an Indigenous Returnee Migrant Women (IRMW) representative, presented the preliminary position paper draft. Following the presentation, participants provided insights, status updates, and constructive feedback. Their suggestions, comments, and queries were noted for potential inclusion in the revised position paper. The meeting also introduced mechanisms and strategies to the "Laganshil Adiwasi Mahila Samuha", focusing on how they can collectively support Returnee Migrant Women throughout the municipality, beyond just Wards 1 and 5.

The session concluded with the leader of the Group addressing all recommendations and suggestions made by the local stakeholders, ensuring their concerns and ideas were acknowledged and considered for future action.

Additionally, storybooks were distributed to the participants.

2024-05-18 13:25:59
Distribution of Stationery to IGOF Scholarship Candidates in Dolakha

National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) launched the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) in 2023 to champion equal access to education for Indigenous Girls. Dedicated to supporting these young learners, IGOF offers educational assistance to selected candidates from Marginalized and endangered Communities, particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Emphasizing empowerment through education, IGOF aims to uplift and transform lives by providing essential educational support to those who need it most. 

In 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) selected two candidates from Ward No. 9 of Kalinchowk Rural Municipality in Dolakha district for the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) scholarship. The selection process involved comprehensive interviews conducted by NIWF staff, assessing the candidates' economic status and academic interests. The interviews included discussions with both the students and their parents. Additionally, NIWF staff visited the candidates' homes to ensure a thorough evaluation of their suitability for the scholarship.  On May 16, 2024, National Indigenous Women Forum (NIWF) traveled to Dolakha to provide necessary stationery items to the two selected candidates. The team visited the candidates' school and held a brief meeting with the teachers. During the meeting, they informed the teachers about the Indigenous Girls Opportunity Fund (IGOF) and explained the selection process for the candidates. Following the meeting, the school principal presented the students with the stationery items provided by NIWF.

Photo description: The Principal of Shree Kalika Secondary School providing stationery items to the two IGOF candidates.

Photo Description: Homes of the two IGOF candidates in Kalinchowk Rural Municipality Ward No. 9 in Dolakha District.

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