Astrid Dier

Gender Specialist (Vietnam), Gender and Social Inclusion Advisor (Nepal)

2009-2010, 2011-2012

Partner: CECI - Nepal

The Cause I Support

The gender/caste/ethnicity dynamics are further complicated by the political situation here which is a bit of a mess under a caretaker government still struggling with drafting a constitution and reaching any kind of consensus. Also, Nepal is dealing with the scars of its ten year conflict (1996-2006) and has not even reached 'post-conflict' status yet but is still considered 'in transition'. The crumbling beauty of Kathmandu and the picturesque rural villages can't hide the reality of Nepal's poverty which is all too evident in the faces of hungry children who are working instead of going to school, severely challenged infrastructure, stories of deaths from preventable diseases and the shantytowns along garbage filled rivers...

So the challenges are many but so are the encouraging signs that this country has a potentially brighter future. The recent UN Human Development Report highlights Nepal as one of the fastest 'movers' due to its progress in health and education. Nepal is also a leader in community forestry- an innovative concept which promotes environmental sustainability, bio-diversity, social justice and economic development through community managed natural resources. During my relatively short time here I've heard tragic stories of violence against women, caste discrimination, and war and I've witnessed scenes of blatant inequality, poverty and injustice. However, I've also been impressed and touched by the many dedicated, thoughtful and intelligent women and men I've met who are committed to an equitable, healthy and safe new Nepal. So onwards and upwards (literally- everything is uphill here!)...

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My Volunteer Experience

I'm with my Canadian-German family of four (Astrid, Bjoern, 11 year old Kaja and 5 year old Kioni) in Kathmandu for two years. I work as a Gender and Social Inclusion Advisor with organizations in the dairy, forestry and local governance sectors to support the integration of a gender and social inclusion perspective which promotes equitable social and economic empowerment and improved livelihoods.

Nepal is a fascinating, complex and often heartbreaking place to be a Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) Advisor. In addition to gender based discrimination there are complicated social dynamics based on caste and ethnicity the extent of which varies from region to region, districit to district, village to village and household to household. For the past few months I've been trying to learn as much as I can and figure out how I can effectively support mainstreaming a GESI perspective into CECI's programs. Luckily, I'm not starting from scratch and CECI has already successfully implemented several GESI strategies and approaches. My task is to continue to support and scale up this process with a focus on our work with partners in the dairy, forestry and local governance sectors.

My previous volunteer posting in Vietnam

This posting in Nepal is my second volunteer experience with the Uniterra program. I previously worked with WUSC in Vietnam for three years. I helped Tra Vinh University’s (TVU) Gender and Community Department (GCD), a member of the Vietnam Association of Community Colleges (VACC), by:

  • Working together with the young staff to develop a Gender and Social Inclusion Mainstreaming Handbook for the university
  • Conducting a community and university-based research to gain a better understanding of the gender and ethnic barriers to accessing good quality education; this helped develop plans and strategies for promoting equitable access to good quality post-secondary education
  • Facilitating workshops for the university staff
  • Organising events for students and the community

Others Volunteers


Ana Carolina Medina

Advisor in the Process of Craft Products

Stéphanie Boucher

Human Resources Consultant


Joanie Verret

Communication and Promotion Advisor


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