Empower 400 Girls and Boys to be Leaders in Nepal

by Women LEAD
Play Video
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
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
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Mentor, Subina (right) with her mentee, Manisha
Mentor, Subina (right) with her mentee, Manisha

Joining Women LEAD was like being part of a new family. This family gives you the guidance, emotional support and access to a network that enable you to achieve your personal and professional goals. It also inspires you to aim higher through the examples set by your peers. As in every family, you’ve got to help your younger sisters. That’s why I volunteered to mentor one of the thirty 2017 LEADers. On September 9th, 2017, on the orientation day, I was paired with Manisha, another young Dalit woman from the countryside. Being from the same background meant that I could understand her best and give Manisha the support she needs during the year-long LEAD Course.

Our shared ‘ta’ to ‘timi’ experience
The Nepali language reflects the caste-based hierarchy that exists in our society. There are multiple ways of addressing someone, using a more or less respectful term depending on someone’s status or caste. Both Manisha and I grew up being called ‘ta,’ the least respectful form of address, while our classmates were addressed as ‘timi.’ Discrimination in language is just the tip of the iceberg though. It has been a constant battle for us and our families to get to where we are today. Manisha, for example, has had to fight with her teacher to receive the certificate she deserved after passing her final exams near the top of her class. This certificate was needed to apply for a scholarship to study in a high school in Kathmandu, but nobody believed that a Dalit girl could succeed and therefore told her it was useless for her to apply.

Luckily we fought our way through and got a scholarship to study in Kathmandu. This hasn’t been the end of discrimination and we are still excluded from social events because of our caste. However, studying in the capital has earned us more respect back home in the village and people are now referring to us with ‘timi’. It’s a symbolic step, but it means a lot to us!

A role model to look up to
After I arrived in Kathmandu, I met Sarita P., a Dalit rights activist who became my informal mentor. I remember feeling overcome with joy and pride that someone as successful as Sarita paid attention to me: calling to check in on me, giving me advice and inviting me to important events. She was a source of inspiration for me, giving me hope that I could also succeed like her despite my caste.

I hope that I can be as good a guide and role model for Manisha as Sarita was for me. There are so few Dalit women in leadership positions that having a role model to look up to is an incredible opportunity for us.

Helping the community while helping each other
A concrete way that I supported Manisha was through opening the doors of my network to her to give her the opportunity to grow and succeed professionally. I invited Manisha to visit my university so that she could ask my professors the questions she had as she applies for different scholarships. I have also invited her to attend the National Dalit Youth Conference on Youth Engagement for Elimination of Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability. The community leaders were happy that I was actively supporting Manisha which is indirectly helping the community as a whole.

After seeing Manisha give a speech at the School Leadership Program (SLP) graduation ceremony, I realized how much more confident she is today than the first time I met her. She has come so far already and I’m sure it won’t be long until it’s Manisha who is supporting her own mentees.

Mentors meet their mentees at Orientation Day
Mentors meet their mentees at Orientation Day
Subina and Manisha, Mentor/Mentee Christmas Party
Subina and Manisha, Mentor/Mentee Christmas Party
Manisha giving a speech at SLP Graduation Ceremony
Manisha giving a speech at SLP Graduation Ceremony
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
SLP activity on conflict resolution
SLP activity on conflict resolution

In November 2017, we launched a new round of School Leadership Programs (SLP) which will reach more than 350 students aged 14-15 across 15 secondary schools in the Kathmandu Valley.  

The SLP provides a real life and hands-on leadership experience to the 30 adolescent girls who take part in Women LEAD’s signature program, the LEAD course. LEADers are put into positions of leadership and responsibility to facilitate the SLP. Over the past two months, they have been researching and initiating contact with schools, pitching the program to principals and students before recruiting and selecting the SLP participants. They have now started to run the 12 weekly sessions that will focus on important issues that are absent from the national curriculum, such as civic engagement, financial management, sexual and reproductive health and rights, bullying, and career counseling.

The SLP provides me with the opportunity to teach what I have learned in the Leadership Institute. It is also a place where I can discuss with young people the issues they feel strongly about like bullying and peer pressure. Thanks to the program, I have learned that being responsible, punctual and confident is a must if you want to be a leader. ” Jeney, 2017 LEADer.

“When I was a school Leadership Program Participant, I looked up to my facilitators and wanted to be as confident as them. I did not only found the SLP fun, it helped me change myself for the better. The sessions made me want to learn new things, push myself further and bring change to my community. After the SLP, I decided to apply for the LEAD Course and I am so proud to be a LEADer and to be the one in charge of running SLP sessions.” Rakshya, 2015 SLP student and 2017 LEADer

It is thanks to your donations that we are able to support young leaders like Jeney and Rakshya to empower younger students, fostering an entire generation that supports and celebrates female leadership in Nepal.

Please sign up to our newsletter if you want to receive more regular updates about our work.

Thank you for continuing to support Women LEAD!

SLP session on civic engagement
SLP session on civic engagement
SLP students discuss healthy relationships
SLP students discuss healthy relationships
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
2017 LEAD Course Recruitment Statistics
2017 LEAD Course Recruitment Statistics

Dear friends of Women LEAD,

A year ago, Women LEAD came my way and provided me with the platform for change that I had always sought. I remember hearing about Women LEAD for the first time two years ago when alumni came to my school and gave us a short description of the LEAD Course. I went home that day and researched all about the LEAD Course and because I was in Grade 11, I couldn’t wait for next year so I could apply when I was finally in Grade 12!

Women LEAD has exposed me to a whole new world of knowledge. During my time here, I’ve realized how passionately I feel about women’s empowerment and I am proud to identify myself as a feminist. Every day of the LEAD Course, I learned more and more. From sessions on public speaking to personality types, I grew more curious and excited for the future that lay in front of me. Through the School Leadership Program (SLP), I even co-led 14 workshops for Grade 9 students, which made me more responsible as a facilitator and as a mentor to those 28 young minds.

I want more young women to have the same opportunities I have had because of the LEAD Course. I am now working as a Communications Intern at Women LEAD to make sure that as many young women in Kathmandu as possible join the LEAD Course.

- Anukriti, 2016 LEADer and summer intern

Thanks to Anukriti and the rest of the WLEAD team, we reached over 2,000 female high school seniors across 44 high schools this summer as we recruited for the year-long LEAD Course. After interviewing ninety of the 240 students who applied, we selected the 30 most passionate, ambitious, and talented girls who demonstrated leadership potential and the desire to change Nepal. These future leaders spent the past two weeks learning about their own values and leadership styles, developing key skills like goal setting and public speaking, and met inspiring Nepali women- including a mountaineer who summited Everest and social entrepreneurs who founded their own businesses.

Over the next ten months, the 30 LEADers will each invest a minimum of 300 hours in furthering their own skills, developing advocacy campaigns, and training 400 middle school students. They will become mentors, advocates, bloggers, and peer-educators. And it doesn't stop there: by sharing their own learnings with their peers and families, they will collectively impact a further 1,750 people.

Thank you for investing in adolescent girls like Anukriti. Because of you, she not only empowered 90 other youth during her own LEAD Course but also selected the thirty 2017 LEADers who will go on to change the lives of thousands more. 

Getting to know eachother on the 1st day
Getting to know eachother on the 1st day
Pasang shares her view of leadership
Pasang shares her view of leadership
Anukriti- 2016 LEADer & 2017 Summer Intern
Anukriti- 2016 LEADer & 2017 Summer Intern

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
LEADers hand out well-deserved certificates
LEADers hand out well-deserved certificates

We recently completed our School Leadership Program with one of the most anticipated events of the year: the SLP graduation for 329 students! After four months of co-ed workshops across 14 middle schools which covered topics from time management to self-defense, the graduation was a time for the participants and LEADers alike to reflect on everything they’d learned. The students not only received their certificates at the graduation but also made speeches and participated in music and dance performances. Over 70% of the participants performed and for many of the students, it was their first time giving a speech or performing in public.

The graduation allowed our 29 LEADers (high school seniors participating in our year-long after-school LEAD Course) to celebrate the accomplishments of the students they had been supporting over the last four months and gave the students an opportunity to showcase their new-found confidence and thank the LEADers for all their hard work. It was also a time for the participants' parents, teachers, and friends to recognize the growth that happened during the program and see the students as future leaders and changemakers.

LEADer Sajju, who conducted the SLP at Bluebird School and whose sister was a LEADer in 2014, said the following in her speech at graduation, "I feel like I have achieved my dream today because three years ago, I saw my sister doing the same thing. While I was in the audience clapping for her, I wished that one day I would be there in her place giving a speech for my students and celebrating their graduation ceremony." While applying for the LEAD Course, Sajju mentioned that she's proud to be a woman because 'I am able to fight for my rights and inspire others', and that her hopes for the future included becoming a changemaker and working with NGOs to develop Nepal, citing, ‘Just one person can make a difference and I dream to become that one person that can make a difference around the world.' In training, mentoring and inspiring 27 students in her SLP, Sajju is well on her way to achieving that dream.

Nischal, who participated in the New Zenith SLP, made a speech at graduation where he talked about how our School Leadership Program enabled him to take charge of his life by setting goals. ‘On the very first day of the SLP, I learned about SMART goals. In this topic, I learned to take aim in life. I also learned that only taking aim is not enough to get success in life. But I learned that goals should be SMART which means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. I used to be confused about my aim in life, but after attending this session, I found my direction!’

It is thanks to your support that we are able to support emerging young leaders like Sajju and Nischal. Our LEAD Course and SLP not only teach practical skills but empower our participants to advocate for themselves and pursue their dreams.

Thank you for helping us build a better world where women leaders co-create the future!

SLP participants perform a cultural dance
SLP participants perform a cultural dance
New Zenith School co-LEADers congratulate students
New Zenith School co-LEADers congratulate students
Sajju (left) thanks the Bluebird School principal
Sajju (left) thanks the Bluebird School principal

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Women LEAD

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @womenleadnepal
Project Leader:
Dipasa Bista
Washington, DC United States
$5,479 raised of $8,000 goal
 
175 donations
$2,521 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Women LEAD has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:
Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.