Jun 2, 2020

How Women LEAD Helped Shape My Career

Aishwarya Speaking at a Women LEAD Event
Aishwarya Speaking at a Women LEAD Event

As I take a walk down memory lane and reflect upon the journey I have had since I first became involved with Women LEAD in 2011, I can firmly state that Women LEAD has had one of the biggest influences over my life. The experiences that I have gained by being involved in Women LEAD as a trainee, a trainer, a mentor and as the Board President, have helped me to shape my identity and mould my personality into something which I feel proud of today.

Women LEAD has contributed to making me a professional by offering me leadership and professional skills. These skills have proven to be my biggest strength while taking important steps career-wise and also making decisions in personal life. Being a part of Women LEAD has also helped me feel confident about myself, made me believe in my potential, and also made me realize that I hold this immense ability to bring the change that I desire to see in my community.

Over the years, I have definitely taken on the role of a leader. I have initiated projects and implemented ideas, been vocal about issues that need to be addressed, taken a stand for myself and for others, fought for justice or supporting those who are doing so, and most importantly, followed my dreams without conforming to what society expects of me.

Women LEAD is not just a platform where I have learned essential practical skills, but it is also a family to me. I have had many achievements, which I feel really proud of- from being awarded two national gold medals for my performance during my Bachelor's studies; launching my own project from college, and currently taking on significant responsibilities as a founding Board Member and the Managing Director of a social enterprise called Putali Nepal. Every individual that I have come across through Women LEAD has played a paramount role in helping me achieve these goals and become who I am today. Their constant support, appreciation, motivation and encouragement has helped me discover my strengths and work on my weaknesses.

Words can’t describe how much I value being part of the Women LEAD family. It has played a huge role in making me realize my ability as an individual to make a difference. It is with this belief that I always remain motivated and encouraged to make the best use of what I have learned over the years and help others.

As Oskar Schindler says, ''whoever saves one life, saves the world entirely.'' I am so happy to be clear about my direction in life and to be working on topics I am truly passionate about. I can’t thank Women LEAD enough for giving me the strength and guiding me towards realizing my goal in life.

Aishwarya Receiving a National Medal
Aishwarya Receiving a National Medal
Apr 22, 2020

Empowering a new generation of boys and girls!

Our SLP Students at their Graduation
Our SLP Students at their Graduation

Thank you so much for all of you who donated to our Girl Fund campaign to support the next generation of boy and girl leaders in Nepal. We're happy to announce that we were able to raise $1793 from the campaign which will make a huge positive difference in the lives of boys and girls in Nepal.

Since our last update, Women LEAD has empowered 272 boys and girls with skills in leadership and knowledge about key topics such as public speaking, gender stereotypes, youth issues and sexual and reproductive health through our School Leadership Program (SLP).

Through the program, which is facilitated by our 2019 LEADers (girls in their final year of high school) our girl and boy participants not only gained this new knowledge and skills, but new female role models to look up to. 

In late February, our SLP participants graduated and shared their reflections about their experiences during the program:

"Through the SLP, I learnt how to solve problems and study well. If I didn't attend the program, I wouldn't have been utilizing my weekends in a good way. Through the program I have also learnt to be self-motivated and confident. I used to be shy but now I can speak in front of all of you" - Smile, SLP Student.

"Women's empowerment is crucial for the development of Nepal. Not only females need to be part of it, but men also- everyone needs to be involved. The entire society needs to learn to respect the dignity, existence and value of women and unit to support them" - Jessica, SLP Student.

Our 2019 LEADers also shared how the program has helped them to grow their leadership skills:

"SLP makes a student look differently towards the world and their process of learning. I enjoyed the journey of teaching students and also getting to learn from them" - Apsana, 2019 LEADer

Now that our SLP students have graduated, we can't wait to see how they will continue to utilize the learnings they have gained in their schools, families and communities.

SLP Student Smile Speaking at his Graduation
SLP Student Smile Speaking at his Graduation
An SLP student during a session of the program
An SLP student during a session of the program
Mar 19, 2020

Engaging with Policies and Politics

Bidhya encouraging others to vote during YWPLI
Bidhya encouraging others to vote during YWPLI

My experience participating in Women LEAD's Young Women’s Political Leadership Institute (YWPLI) was my first step into politics and policy-making. During YWPLI, I campaigned for Subuna Basnet, a young activist and candidate for the House of Representatives, who I had come to know of in 2015 through Women LEAD. While voters questioned her policies and, perhaps, I also did not understand them that well, what motivated me to support her campaign was her genuine passion for politics. While we did not succeed in electing her, working for her gave me a valuable lesson; it made me realize that even though people will doubt you, that should not deter you from achieving your purpose.

After graduating from YWPLI, I carried on exploring the interaction between people and the law. I started experimenting with film-making as a form of activism. I worked with a team of three other exceptional women to make Pahichan, a short documentary on Rukshana Kapali. Rukshana is a young transwoman fighting against a trans-exclusionary admission rule at Tribhuvan University, the largest University in Nepal. The making of that film was my first attempt to ‘put my statement out there’ in front of an audience.

By telling Rukshana’s story, we attempted to challenge the heteronormative patriarchy of Nepali society and the laws and institutions that emanated from it. While I have continued my journey of storytelling, I have further expanded on my knowledge and engagement with policymaking that began at YWPLI.

I currently work as a Research and Communications Assistant at Samriddhi Foundation, a public policy organization working to promote economic freedom. My work at Samriddhi has given me insight into the making of public policies and that the government can play the role of both a facilitator and an inhibitor in the lives of its citizens. I have written a policy brief on Nepal’s new media law, which is aimed at curtailing citizens’ freedom of expression. Somebody recently asked me why I have to work for a so-called ‘political cause’ and my response to it was, “don’t we all work for a political cause?”

 
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