Supporting female carers in Nepal and Bangladesh this International Women’s Day

It is estimated that 80% of people with disabilities live in the developing world, and while a host of international organisations that are working to support those with disabilities probably spring to mind, it is a challenge to find one that focuses on their unpaid carers who are often equally impoverished, isolated and disproportionately female.

Anil Patil, founder of Carers Worldwide, refers to these carers as an ‘invisible army’ as despite the significant role they play,  recognition and support networks are non-existent.

“All of us will become carers or will have someone caring for us at some point. It does not discriminate whether you are rich or poor. It affects each one of us,” says Anil.

In the UK, unpaid carers save the NHS more than £100 billion a year. Scale the number up to a country the size of Bangladesh and you get an understanding of the contribution carers make. As the only organisation working exclusively with unpaid carers in the developing world, Carers Worldwide is looking to address that imbalance.

Since its establishment in 2012, the organisation has primarily focused its work in South Asia and has received two UK Aid Direct grants for projects in Nepal and Bangladesh. In this region, caring responsibilities are generally undertaken by women; 93% of carers engaged by Carers Worldwide in Bangladesh are women. The lack of support networks combined with the gender inequality present in South Asia – countries in the region rank in the bottom third for women’s economic participation, educational attainment and health – means that female carers are doubly marginalised; excluded from mainstream society due to their gender and role as carers.

Caring responsibilities mean that they often end up impoverished and unable to maintain their own health and wellbeing. During its Nepal project, it was found that 69% of carers had a physical health issue due to the strain of their caring responsibilities.

Carers Worldwide builds support networks and raises awareness of the role of carers by improving the capabilities of local health care systems, providing employment and skills training, establishing respite opportunities and creating carers-only associations and cooperatives.

“By setting up carer organisations, carers are not only able to share their experiences and issues, but they feel empowered and are provided a platform to get recognition for the vital work they undertake,” says Anil.

Carers Worldwide UK Aid Direct-funded project in Nepal was a success. By the end of the project, 75% of the carers engaged had a sustainable, regular income and 100% of young carers had returned to school.

The traction gained by the associations meant that several local communities celebrated a day for carers in 2014. This is a tradition that continues to this day with elected representatives and ministers attending the events.

Next for Carers Worldwide is expanding the model to other countries. Its Small Charities Challenge Fund project in Bangladesh has been live for four months and it has already established 17 carers-only groups; the first of their kind in the country. The organisation is also keen to continue the progress made by building the capacity of the carers associations to increase their political power and ensure nobody is left behind.

“In our first UK Aid Direct project, we ensured 75% of carers had a regular income. But what about the other 25%? How can we improve this? This is our next step,” says Anil.

Find out more about how Carers Worldwide’s work empowers women in South Asia here. 

UK government announce campaign to end period poverty globally by 2030

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Minister for Women and Equalities and Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt,* today (4 March) announced a new UK government campaign to end period poverty globally by 2030.

In many developing countries, it is estimated that half of all women and girls are forced to use rags, grass and paper to manage their periods. A lack of access to products, and the stigma and taboo that still surrounds periods, can force them to miss school or work, or even to live in isolated huts during their periods each month. In the UK, Girl Guiding UK found that 26% of girls aged 11-21 feel embarrassed talking to people about their period, and 21% had been made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their period.

Ms Mordaunt’s new campaign pledges up to £2 million in UK aid support, through the Department of International Development (DFID) to help organisations which are already working to stamp out period poverty around the world

The current UK Aid Direct funding round, offering Community Partnership and Impact grants welcomes applications addressing any of the Global Goals. A portion of available funding is already reserved for projects addressing urban poverty, and following Penny Mordaunt’s announcement, projects working to support an end to period poverty globally will also be especially welcome.

Find out if your organisation is eligible to apply by visiting the Community Partnership and Impact sections of the website.


*Please note: This is an old article. The current Secretary of State for International Development is Rory Stewart.

General funding round now open

For all those interested in applying for a Community Partnership or Impact grant, the application portal has now opened.

This can be accessed through the red button at the top right-hand side of our website showing the words ‘apply now’.

We recommend you watch the short film on completing the eligibility check and concept note online before starting.

We also urge applicants to view all the guidance documents located within the individual grant areas.

A good place to start would be to view the guidance webinar recording (on YouTube) and presentation from Tuesday 26 February (especially if you were unable to attend).

The deadline for submitting your application is Wednesday 17 April at 17:00 (BST) and we recommend allowing plenty of time to complete it.

If you have any questions which are not answered on the website, please refer to our Contact us page.

Good luck with your applications!