Giving Compass' Take:

• Rojita Adhikari shares the stories of women who defied Nepal's travel ban to do domestic work overseas. The ban, intended to protect women from abuse, is a barrier to employment for women who cannot find work in Nepal. 

• What alternative policies could the government explore that might protect women better than the travel ban? 

• Find out how social enterprise is changing women’s work in India.

When Phurpa and Kalpana got married around eight years ago, they were farmers. But couldn’t grow enough on their mountain farm in central Nepal to support the family each year.

Kalpana says. “Our situation was getting worse day by day. We were not able to feed our children properly. Then, I decided to get a job in Dubai.”

She was aware of the stories of awful work conditions and abuse brought back by women who had taken jobs in the Gulf. But she felt she had no other choice. In 2014, she left for Dubai.

Now, she is grateful the stories didn’t stop her. She earns $420 a month working as a housemaid for a family that treats her well. She has learned to speak Arabic and has freedom to travel. The money she sends home has been enough to rebuild her family’s house, which was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake, as well as putting some aside for savings.

The job in Dubai has been so good for Kalpana that after taking a few months off to spend time with her family in Nepal, she risked breaking the law to go back. While she had gotten a permit to go to Dubai the first time, her second trip over there was planned after Nepal banned women from traveling to the Gulf for domestic work. For Kalpana, the promise of providing for her family was stronger than the ban, so she returned to Dubai undocumented.

Figures from the Department of Foreign Employment of Nepal show that more than 176,000 Nepali women have been granted labor permits since records started in 2008, traveling mainly to the UAE, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Jordan.

In response to reports of the abuse of maids in the Gulf, Nepal made it illegal for women to travel to the region for domestic work in 2016.

Read the full article about Nepal's travel ban by Rojita Adhikari at News Deeply.