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Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal

by Women LEAD
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Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal
2017 LEADer Anshuya with 2018 LEADer Barma
2017 LEADer Anshuya with 2018 LEADer Barma

Our year-long LEAD Course provides young women with the knowledge, support, skills, and opportunities to become leaders and changemakers within their societies. Each year, every participant is paired with a LEAD Course alumna mentor who provides individualized guidance and support to their mentee throughout the year.

This year, 2018 LEADer Barma was paired with 2017 LEADer Anshuya as her mentor. Anshuya has played a valuable role in Barma's life, especially in helping Barma build her confidence in living with a visual impairment.

“I’m very fortunate to have 2017 LEADer Anshuya as my mentor. She always has my back and is very understanding. Whenever I feel like I didn’t give my best in something, she cheers me up and because of her I feel constantly motivated to get out of my comfort zone. These days I feel better about myself and very confident.” - Barma

Mentoring has also been a valuable learning experience for Anshuya, teaching how to get along with someone with a completely different personality and bring out the best in her mentee Barma.

“I choose to be a mentor so that I could provide moral support to my mentee, guide and help her in her various tasks and promote her self –development. Despite having completely different personalities, my mentee Barma and I have bonded over same hobbies. She is an introvert and shy so it’s difficult her to open up, but with me she is comfortable enough to share her strengths and weaknesses - Anshuya

Although the 2018 LEAD Course is coming to an end, Barma and Anshuya's relationship won't end here. Like so many of our previous mentor-mentee pairs, Barma and Anshuya have created a strong sisterly bond and plan to continue to support each other's dreams well into the future.

Thank you for helping young women like Barma and Anshuya to discover their leadership potential and be continuous sources of motivation for each other. We look forward to sharing more stories of transformation from our 2018 LEADers in the next report as they graduate and reflect on their year long journeys.

Barma during a session of the LEAD Course
Barma during a session of the LEAD Course

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SLP Student Raj from Little Flower School
SLP Student Raj from Little Flower School

Over the last two weekends, 293 buddying girl and boy leaders graduated from the School Leadership Program (SLP). The SLP is a four-month program run by our 28 girl LEADers school for Grade 9 students in 15 schools within the Kathmandu Valley.

Through the SLP, our LEADers receive weekly training on a range of topics such as civic engagement, youth issues and active listening which they subsequently deliver to the Grade 9 students.

Delivering the SLP has given our LEADers newfound skills in facilitation and leadership, helped them to deal with challenging situations, and confronted their own preconceived ideas about young people's potential.

"The experience of running the SLP had its ups and downs. Sometimes my co-leader Anjana and I were disastisfied with ourselves when things didn't go to plan, but other times we were so proud of our students by seeing how much they had grown and learnt during the four months.  Overall, the SLP has been an amazing experience and really helped me to grow. I never knew students from government schools were this smart, confident and driven, but now I've realised they are just as talented as students from other schools." - 2018 LEADer Piyusha

The SLP also had a big impact on the students who participated. During one of the SLP closing ceremonies Raj from Little Flower Secondary Basic School school spoke in front of his peers, family, Women LEAD staff and other students and stated, "I've learned so many new things through the SLP that I didn't learn at school, such as bullying, public speaking and active listening. Now I have the confidence to speak in front of all of you, which I didn't have before".

The success of the SLP could not have been possible without your ongoing support. 

Thank you for helping to empower the next generation of girl and boy leaders in Nepal.

2018 LEADers Piyusha and Anjana with SLP students
2018 LEADers Piyusha and Anjana with SLP students
2018 LEADer Piyusha speaking at the graduation
2018 LEADer Piyusha speaking at the graduation
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Sristika Raising Awareness on Street Harassment
Sristika Raising Awareness on Street Harassment

Did you know about 97% of Nepalese women have faced some kind of sexual harassment in their lifetime? Unfortunately, I count myself as being on that list. In our patriarchal Nepalese society, women are objectified and always considered as being inferior to men. Consequently, problems like sexual and street harassment are taken very lightly.

My Story

At the age of 14, I was cat-called by a person who was double my age, but I just kept quiet and went on my way. Endurance is considered the most important value for a woman in our society, but I knew enduring such a form of harassment shouldn’t be tolerated. I knew I had to speak out against it. I got chance to do just this earlier this year through the advocacy project on street harassment I ran through the LEAD Course.

Our Project

My project team mates Jeney, Pasang,Siwani and Aarati were as passionate as me about tackling street harassment so we believed that we would be able to make at least a small change through our project.

To ensure our project would make a big impact, we ran a street harassment awareness session for over 100 students from grades 8 and 9 in two schools. We planned our 3 hour session carefully to include some important topics we wanted the students to understand. We covered issues such as what street harassment is and what is not, the differences between good touch and bad touch, victim blaming, self defense tips, and most importantly, how to be an active bystander.

We named our project Speak Out to Rise, because until and unless we speak for ourselves or for others we won’t rise up in society. We encouraged the students to sign an anti-street harassment contract where they promised to be an active bystander when they witness any form of street harassment. We were thrilled with the enthusiasm and support we received from the students, and wrapped up our sessions with big smiles across our faces.

Our Impact

Despite long travel distances and lots of other commitments, our team successfully completed the project. Our hard work paid off when we found out students who never knew about street harassment or its consequences before our sessions had a strong understanding of this topic by the end. From this, I learned that putting in the effort to raise awareness about an important topic can result in people changing their perspectives.

This project has helped me to extend my horizons. I now feel confident enough to lead my own project in the future. I feel empowered and strong enough to stand up for myself and for others. I now believe that together we can take action to end street harassment before it escalates into a much bigger issue.

Thanks for continuing to support young Nepalese women like me to tackle important issues in our communities.

Sristika 

A student with her anti-street harassment contract
A student with her anti-street harassment contract
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Sristika
Sristika

The LEAD Course has been a platform for Sristika, 2017 LEADer and now fundraising intern at WLEAD, to get to know herself better, broaden her understanding of the world and find her purpose in life. Enjoy reading Sristika’s reflections on her LEAD Course journey and if you have any thoughts and questions for her please share them with us. She’d love to hear from you!

Before joining Women LEAD, I was full of doubts about myself and didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I went to the LEAD Course open-house event where WLEAD staff and alumni gave me information about the program and answered my questions. They told me something that marked me that day. They said that we all have the potential to become a leader and a changemaker if we are given the opportunity. I wanted to do something useful with my life so I decided to apply and become a LEADer.

In the LEAD Course, I’ve learned about various topics and social issues. I was especially interested in the ones related to gender and sexual orientation as they were new to me.  For instance, I used to think that marriage was only between a man and a woman and that the opposite was not natural. My time at WLEAD changed my perspective and made me realize that it wasn’t the case. And even if we disagree with homosexuality, we should always spread kindness and show compassion to others, regardless of sexual orientation. It was the same with feminism which I was told before WLEAD that it is about fighting men but this is not true. Being a feminist is to believe that men and women are equal and to create more opportunities for women to get to the positions that are normally enjoyed by men.

The LEAD Course has been a space where I got to know myself better, defined my ambitions, and think about the role I want to have in the world. I personally feel the responsibility to help my nation because of all the pressing issues we face: our environment is degrading, our cities are polluted, and our politicians corrupted... One of my biggest concerns is youth migration and brain drain. I’ve read that every day in Nepal, 1,500 young people migrate abroad in search of better opportunities. I want to encourage them to stay in Nepal and be a positive force for change. 

After the LEAD course, I plan to study tourism because I believe this sector plays a key role in Nepal’s development. More specifically, I want to encourage young people to travel across Nepal and discover their own country. Travelling exposes you to new cultures, other ways of life, other perspectives, and realities. This is important in a country as diverse as Nepal where there are as many as 125 different caste/ethnic groups and 92 living languages, and where there’s an increasing gap between the rural and urban areas. Through responsible tourism, I want to inspire youths to stay in Nepal and contribute to its development by showing them the beauty and potential of our nation.

Sristika pushing herself at mentors-mentees event
Sristika pushing herself at mentors-mentees event
Speak Out to Rise, Sristika's advocacy project
Speak Out to Rise, Sristika's advocacy project
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Body Positivity Advocacy Group
Body Positivity Advocacy Group

Rikkysha, Rina, Anshuya, Astha, Shery, and Salina, participants of the 2017 LEAD Course are fighting gender stereotypes and helping other youth to be more comfortable with their body. Their mini advocacy campaign called #Oneofakind is centered on celebrating differences and combating body shaming.

“You will get a doll when you look like one!” was told eight-year-old Anshuya on her birthday. “Little by little, these comments about my weight transformed me. I was no longer the happy and careless girl I used to be. My fear of being judged stopped me from going out to play with others. Some days I even stopped eating.” Astha received similar comments about her looks. ‘You’re too tall! You will never find a husband’ said her aunty. A 2016 survey from Girls Guiding found that 87% of adolescent girls feel judged on their appearance rather than on their ability. Because of gender inequality, women are first seen as brides, wives, and mothers rather than individuals with their own needs, perspectives, and dreams. Those who don’t conform and whose bodies don’t meet the conventional beauty standard are judged and openly criticized.

The LEAD Course covers the four broad themes of Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Advocacy, and Development, a formula that instills a sense of responsibility in the girls and gives them the tools to fulfill their aspirations. Through the advocacy component, the LEADers learned how to advocate for a cause they care about and influence change. In groups of six, they identified a problem, researched and discussed its root causes before defining together a strategy on how to address it. Each group received guidance from WLEAD staff and a stipend of $50 to deliver an effective and impactful mini-advocacy project.  

Rikkysha, Rina, Anshuya, Astha, Shery, and Salina joined forces to tackle gender stereotypes and body shaming. Despite their different physiques, personalities, and interests, they all share the same goal of breaking harmful stereotypes and being accepted for who they are. During this year, they came to realize that being different is a strength and that they shouldn’t try to fit the norm. “We want students to understand that society and the media put pressure on the way they think, act and look. We want them to be aware of the consequences of body shaming on their self-esteem and their physical health.”

Our six LEADers went to two schools and facilitated sessions on gender stereotypes and body positivity for around 200 students. They prepared content relevant to boys as they are also affected and often teased for not being “manly” enough. To make a more lasting impact, Anshuya and her friends now want to meet the school principals and convince them to incorporate body positivity in sexual education class. They are planning to present the information they collected in the surveys to show the principals how common body shaming is and share with them real-life stories on how it is impacting the students.

This advocacy project was a great opportunity for the girls to pay it forward to the community and do something about a cause they strongly feel about. It also gave them a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. They now believe that they are real leaders able to make a positive change. At the LEAD Course graduation ceremony, last Saturday, Anshuya spoke confidently about her story in front of a large audience of 100 people: “At WLEAD, I learned the power of believing in myself and to fight for my opinion. I’m no longer afraid of standing up for myself and I proudly say out loud: ‘My body is not yours! My body is mine! My body is not a joke!”

 

LEADers receiving advocacy training
LEADers receiving advocacy training
Rina sharing her opinion in Advocacy Week session
Rina sharing her opinion in Advocacy Week session
LEADers with Oasis school students
LEADers with Oasis school students
Body Positivity Training in Annal Jyoti School
Body Positivity Training in Annal Jyoti School
Rikkysha, Astha and Anshuya facilitating a session
Rikkysha, Astha and Anshuya facilitating a session
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Organization Information

Women LEAD

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @womenleadnepal
Project Leader:
Dipasa Bista
Washington, DC United States
$4,974 raised of $8,000 goal
 
157 donations
$3,026 to go
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