Sep 30, 2020

From a shy person to leading my own COVID-19 response.

2018 LEADer Nikki
2018 LEADer Nikki

I was never an outspoken person, at least not with many. I barely looked at people in the eye when I spoke to them and mostly, I kept away from everyone. Back in 2018 when I was shortlisted for Women LEAD’s LEAD course, I was so happy but pleasantly surprised; why would anyone select me? During the intense year-long course, I realized the answer to the question, a little late but surely; they recognized the spark in me that I hadn’t myself. Even after graduating from the LEAD Course, Women LEAD has continued to foster my passions in a positive and comforting way while also encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone to do much more. Also, the trust and support that they have in me is one of the motivation factors that drives me to pursue new paths and explore boundaries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely given us an opportunity to reflect and re-think many aspects of our life. To date, Nepal has gone undergone 2 nation-wide complete lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While lockdown was boring for me as I couldn’t go out or eat out or meet my friends; all while not having to worry about basic supplies like food rations and hygiene products, I realized it wasn’t the same for many Nepali citizens.  With complete nation-wide lockdown, thousands of Nepali men, women, and even children were struggling to survive just another day with little to no food and no source of income. Something I learned as a LEADer through the LEAD course’s advocacy projects and change maker challenges was to recognize the existing issues and strive to solve it; which is exactly what I did through Feed the Hungry Nepal.

Amidst the pandemic and the first nation-wide lockdown, I along with four other youths started a COVID-19 response initiative, “Feed the Hungry Nepal”, to help ones that were left hungry during the lockdown; especially the daily wage workers. Food is a basic necessity- something thousands of Nepali people don’t have the benefit of and access to. With low income straining them, the added loss of jobs makes them the most vulnerable during this global pandemic. What could have been the next move? Wait for the government or someone else to do something about it or take the bold steps to bring the required change? That decision is something we all might have to come across at least once in our lives. Once we decided upon how we wanted help, we approached our close ones, explaining the situation, and asking for their assistance. In just 2 days, our team of 5 became a team of 10 and then kept on increasing. Currently, three months after it was started, there are 500+ youths working with Feed the Hungry Nepal. 

This small initiative that started with 5 youths is now a registered non-profit and has raised over $10,000 in about 3 months and has distributed over 2376 rations across 50+locations. We reached a new milestone this week- we were able to provide 500 ration distributions in a day. Over the months, hundreds of people have joined our cause by providing monetary support, by working with us at the field, and by helping spread the word. One thing that I want to tell everyone is that no idea is too stupid or impossible. I strongly believe that one should pursue their interests and try generating ideas on how to move forward. This is just the start and we have a long way to go - many hurdles to overcome and milestones to celebrate.

Last but not the least, I am very thankful to Women LEAD for helping me find myself and making able enough to take up key leadership roles. I’d also like to request our dear readers to never stop exploring your limits and diving into new territories. All the love and all the best to you!

Nikki along with her Feed the Hungry Nepal team
Nikki along with her Feed the Hungry Nepal team
Distribution of the food rations
Distribution of the food rations

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Aug 18, 2020

My journey from LEADer 2019 to Programs Intern 2020.

2019 LEADer Asmita during Leadership Institute
2019 LEADer Asmita during Leadership Institute

Women LEAD gives me a reason to move ahead, to never undermine myself, to never give up on things that matter, and to be the Fire! 

Women LEAD’s year-long LEAD course has made me more aware of who I am as a person than I was ever before. Realizing and advocating for issues I passionately care about (during advocacy projects) to developing myself both personally and professionally, I have grown tremendously as an individual over the year. My journey of learning and growth has been ongoing, since, as Women LEAD’s LEADer 2019 and now as a Programs Intern.

At Women LEAD I felt empowered around my amazing 29 fellow LEADErs and its staff who constantly motivated me to challenge my comfort zone. Conducting School Leadership Program (SLP) was quite challenging for me. From visiting different schools, liaising with people in authority to conducting a 4-month long SLP for 20+ grade 9 students, I found myself pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. Reflecting back, I am amazed by the level of confidence I’ve built over those 4 months and throughout the entire program. 

Due to the pandemic, LEAD Course 2019 had to go virtual midway but our enthusiasm and zeal to make the best out of the situation had never been higher. Our Advocacy Project Week, Professional Development Week, and even our Graduation was conducted virtually. I am very interested in Politics and aspire to Nepal’s First Female Prime Minister. During the Advocacy Project Week, my team and I conducted our project, entitled “Samnivesa”, that aimed at raising awareness among young boys and girls (aged15-19 years) about the importance of Politics and the role of Youths. I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity to work on a project so close to my heart and to have taken one small step towards my future goal.  

After our LEAD course Graduation, Women LEAD opened doors to more opportunities; one of them being the internship program at Women LEAD Nepal. Over the year, I was constantly amazed by my seniors who were, then, working as Interns. I also noticed how well they handled their responsibilities and managed to support and guide us throughout. They inspired me to apply for the internship program.

It has been a little over a month since I started working as one of the Programs Interns at Women LEAD Nepal. Although it is virtual right now, I am learning a lot of things. With the urge to learn and explore myself I am realizing that I have, now, stepped into the real world. This has to be the best platform to enhance my professional skills with the use of the knowledge I gained during the LEAD courses while working alongside equally passionate and motivated individuals.

2019 LEAder Asmita with her fellow LEADers
2019 LEAder Asmita with her fellow LEADers

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Jul 14, 2020

Welcoming our 3rd Cohort of YWPLI Fellows!

Our 2017 YWPLI Fellows with Guest Speaker.
Our 2017 YWPLI Fellows with Guest Speaker.

We are thrilled to announce that the applications for the 3rd iteration of Young Women’s Political Leadership Institute (YWPLI) are now LIVE! We are equally excited to welcome and groom a new batch of 20 young, amazingly passionate change-makers who’ll play a key role in co-creating Nepal’s political future. 

The 9-month long program, this year, will commence on 16th August 2020 and is expected to conclude with a graduation on 1st May. Adapting to the new normal brought about by the global Pandemic COVID-19, the program will run online initially. COVID-19 might’ve posed new challenges ahead of us but amidst the pandemic, one thing that hasn’t changed at all is our young changemakers' zeal and commitment to changing the status quo of Nepali women in politics. 

This year, our 20 enthusiastic fellows will intern with female politicians from various government agencies for at least a month – most of whom were elected during the 2017 local elections. Additionally, to get more ground exposure and to understand the roles of women representatives at the local level, our 2020 Fellows will be taken on a week-long trip outside Kathmandu, potentially to Province 1. Our Fellows will have the opportunity to work with women Mayors and Deputy Mayors during the field trip. They’ll receive hands-on learning opportunities and a chance to understand different leaders' leadership styles. 

Starting this year, our YWPLI Fellows will be receiving mentorship by our past Fellows and Alumni.  Unlike in the previous years, our alumni based overseas and outside Kathmandu will have the opportunity to be mentors. The mentorship is expected to provide our dynamic and bold Fellows with the opportunity to build their own ally-ship as they continue to challenge the patriarchal structure of Nepali society.

“YWPLI has helped me understand my role as a Nepali citizen while providing me with the knowledge to create change. My plans have always been to work in public service while making public institutions more accountable, transparent and inclusive; the knowledge I’ve gained at YWPLI has only helped further my aspirations,” says our 2017 Fellow Sujata.

In the following 2 months, the applicants of YWPLI 2020 will undergo a fair selection process. The shortlisted candidates will be called in for an interview and finally, 20 exceptional young women will be selected to embark on this 9-month long journey full of learning.

Stay tuned for updates on our incredible YWPLI 2020 Fellows’ journey.

YWPLI'17 Fellows during 2 week Political Institute
YWPLI'17 Fellows during 2 week Political Institute
Snippet from 2-week long Political Institute 2017.
Snippet from 2-week long Political Institute 2017.

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