Meet our 2018 LEADers!

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Astha

Dreaming of a better world sans discrimination

Astha has seen many instances of gender-based discrimination in her society. She’s seen how young girls have their fathers make decisions for them, as an adult their husbands and in old age, their sons. She is infuriated by how women have no space to decide their trajectory of life and lives with an ambition of becoming a lawyer and using her knowledge to show marginalized communities what their rights truly are and inspire women to take charge of their own lives.

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Anjana

Starting Small

Anjana believes that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Which is why she wants to be a successful accountant in the future so that she can establish a frim financial footing for herself before working with her community to fight civil society issues. She says that she wants to be a role model for other people and to do this, she wants to hold activities in the village and try to change the viewpoints of people within her society. She says, “Small drops of water make up the ocean” further emphasizing her belief in the idea that all great leaders start small.

IMG_9857Askita
The Fighting Spirit

Born with a rebellious heart, Askita has always made a point to speak out against injustices she sees within her family and outside. She is very vocal about gender-based discrimination and says, “Without them (women) realizing that they are caged, they tend to teach their little one’s that it is okay be caged.” She understands that for women to reclaim their freedom, they need to understand their situation and actively work in deconstructing societal forms of discrimination that surrounds her. She believes in herself and says that she will never stop fighting for what is right and will constantly strive for a better world no matter what profession she ends up picking up.

IMG_0367Burma
The Weight of Difference

Burma has always been treated differently because she is partially visually impaired. She says she has been in many situations where my abilities have been questioned, where people have blamed me for my situation and where people have acted differently around me. She counters these instances by saying, “I am not different from others, if I get equal opportunity I am no different than anyone else. I want to prove this to my society.” She feels strongly towards the bullying on girls by boys in school settings and says that bullying leaves a very long lasting scar which is why she moves forward with the hope that the world will be filled with positive thoughts and attitudes. “I look forward to the day where everything will change where my society and my country understands and appreciates diversity rather than fear it.”

IMG_9990Dilasha
Voicing the Voiceless

Dilasha has seen bigotry and intolerance first hand. She has seen people she called her role models behave indifferently towards people who belong to the LGBTIQ community and she’s seen people belonging to the community being asked to ‘change their sexuality’. Dilasha does not stand for any of this and fights for the rights of people to be comfortable and understanding of their own sexuality and the sexuality of others. She believes that the future of her country rides on the young which is why holds them to such high standards, making sure they hold themselves to those standards as well.

IMG_9878Dipa
With the Power of the Law

Dipa understands that although the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu, has entered the 21st Century, many of the outlying villages are still frozen in time. One of these villages, Doti, is home to her. But home sometimes doesn’t feel like home, many women like her are sent out to cowsheds during times of mensuration, are abused by their husbands and suffer untouchability. These restrictive societal restrictions only add to the metal and emotional stress for young women and to change this, Dipa wants to create change as a lawyer. She wants to use the power of the judiciary system to not only introduce policies but to effectively implement them as well. She believes in giving justice to the oppressed masses, especially women.

IMG_1451Enjala
Leadership Starts at Home

Enjala sees herself as a shy young woman, unable to speak up in front of people and lacking confidence to fight for issues that she feels strongly for. Her journey towards leadership, she believes, starts from within. She wants to develop skills that empower her to stand for any discrimination she sees around her, be it in her community or her larger society. She wants to be become a successful business woman in the future and help society through the means of her business acumen and influence.

IMG_9548Jasmine
The Power of Accountability

“Fighting for gender equality is not only limited to advocacy, holding men accountable is an equally important part of understanding and fighting against inequalities in society,” says Jasmine. Women suffer from various societal limitations because of the actions of men, like having to come home at a certain time because of the fear of rape and the inability to express individuality through the means of clothing. Jasmine sees these are directly correlated to how men are not held accountable for their actions and women have to accommodate themselves as per the needs of men.

Jasmine has never been afraid to talk about these issues but she realizes that there needs to a method to how she advocates against these issues. She wants to learn effective ways to fight for her rights and the rights of other women. She is vocal but she wants to learn to how use that to her advantage.

IMG_9885Jayanti
Fighting the Caste System

“Don’t you dare touch this,” “Don’t play with their children,” “Don’t loiter here,” or “Don’t go there” are all phrases that have haunted Jayanti throughout her life. These statements are aimed at her for belonging to a lower caste. Jayanti is a fighter, however, and has never let any of these statements affect her. She fights against the caste system with vehemence and a profound sense of understanding and knowledge. While the Nepali government has made caste-based discrimination illegal, the issue still persists within the broader Nepali society.

Jayanti has struggled with the question: “Why are some people better than others?” but as she’s gotten older, she has understood that this divide is arbitrary and needs to be removed completely from society in Nepal ever wishes to move forward. She is working to light a fire, within her society, to challenge these issues and believes that she needs to be the one to do it.

IMG_9844Labbi
Bridging the Gender Gap

When Labbi joined a web-development course, she was greeted with only four female faces amongst a crowd of 16 men. She was appalled by how gendered fields like IT and STEM were. She worked hard to stand out amongst the sea of men, she wanted to show people that even as a woman, she could excel in a male-dominated field. This experience put a lot of things into perspective for her, she realized that if this was the situation in a city that was known to be progressive, she realized that gravity of gendered discrimination in rural areas. Today, she fights for an equal society with a reinvigorated sense of responsibility. She fights for equal education rights for young girls and pushes women to believe in their voice. She wants to empower women to use their voices to maximum effect, advocating, sharing and fighting with their stories.

IMG_9578Lasata
A Safe Space for Children

Many village children are sent to the city to earn and send money back home. These children arrive to Kathmandu is little money, help or understanding. Lasata has seen many such children around bus parks begging or engaged in menial labor. Watching such children out of school, working laboriously for very little money breaks her heart. Lasata is not one to sit back and watch however, she has already started working for these children by joining the local Child Club where she worked with other members to draft a list of demands and suggestions against child labor. They submitted the list to the Mayor of her city.

Lasata believes in the power of advocacy, which is why she is currently studying Sociology and Mass Communication. She lives with the ambition to be a social worker in the future and help the same community of children who have had such a profound impact on her.

IMG_9507Mahima
Teaching Law

Mahima has two distinct interests, teaching and law. She wants to be a lawyer in the future but loves teaching her students. She is a great student at school which she reciprocates by running tuition classes for Class 8 students. She has seen how women aren’t taken seriously in critical situations and usually decision making is usually dominated by men, which is why she has a deep rooted interested in law. She wants to be someone within one of the most powerful social institutions, the judiciary, and make sure that women are represented well within the legal system.

IMG_9868Neha
Parental Support

For Neha, her parents are the people who’ve inspired her to be the person she is today. She says that in many of her family gatherings, people pressure her father to have another child, even though he already has two girls, in hopes of having a son. In her extended family, the belief that a son carries on the legacy of the family still prevails, but regardless, her father has stood by her two daughters. He has always made it a point to tell people that his daughters will conquer the world and this belief that pushed Neha to think deeply about patriarchy and how it influenced and corrupts young minds. Coming from a family such as this, she believes that for women to stand toe-to-toe with men, female leaders and influencers need to be more vocal and visible. She wants to be one of these influencers; with an ambition to become a successful businesswoman, she wants to show society that her gender is irrelevant to her success.

IMG_9532Nikki
Finding Courage

Nikki says that she’s always been a quiet, introverted girl. She says that she has great ideas but always gets held back in front of a mass. Her teachers, however, have seen leadership qualities in her and have pushed her into leadership positions on different occasions but because of her personality, she feels she underperformed every time. Learning from these experiences, she understands that leadership capabilities are useless if you aren’t confident in yourself. She believes this to be the biggest challenge for her and wants to become the leader that she knows that she can be. It all boils down to her finding the courage that she seeks.

IMG_0017Niraja
Strength in Unity

For Niraja, change in the mindsets of people makes a lot of difference. She has come across many instances where well-educated men have refused to marry free spirited women, as well-off parents assume to support the liberty of daughters but in reality end up suppressing them.

Niraja believes that to strive for a better Nepal, the youth of today should first unite together. She thinks that if the youth don’t help change traditional mindsets nothing is going to inspire change.

IMG_9746Nisha
The Female Voice

Nisha sees herself as a confident woman who believes in teamwork. She hears everyone’s opinions and tries to be inclusive in her decision making process. Locally, however, women find it difficult to voice out their opinions and make their own decisions. Nisha believes that the only way to mitigate this problem is through gender equality. Traditional gender norms still suppress women which is why Nisha is concerned about the systemic suppression inspired by these issues. She understands that the decisions made by women are of equal importance and advocates for women to be given the freedom of choice.

Nisha sees herself as a successful engineer in the future and through the influence he garners from her position, would like to work as a social activist for women’s rights.

IMG_0280Pasang
No One Left Behind

Pasang has seen many drug-addled teenagers in her city suffer from prejudice. She believes that there is their situation should not be a cause of prejudice and says that she wants to know them personally and provide them with the love, guidance, and support they seek. She believes that she can bring a positive impact in their lives by leading them towards a positive direction.

Pasang considers that good leaders do not let their followers work alone but instead helps them achieve their goals.

IMG_0110Piyusha
Understanding Leadership 

Piyusha has been given many chances at leadership in school but her idea of leadership was always fueled by misconception of leadership. During her school days, she was deprived of opportunities which fed self-doubt and scepticism. Her friends, however, have remained loyal supporters throughout her journey as a house captain even though her leadership journey didn’t blossom to the position of the head girl. This further fueled her scepticism which pushed her to  hold herself back from future leadership positions.

However, learning from these experiences she understands that captainship is not the only role for a leader. She believes in herself more now and understands that the qualities of a leader come more from within and is constantly working daily to regain the confidence that she lost.

IMG_0001Rakshya
Awareness for Mental Health

Rakshya acknowledges that mental health is a critical issue that many in Nepal shy away from, but emphasises the importance of conversations around it. In her community, mental illness is a taboo and, therefore, it is either ignored or criticized. Rakshya is deeply affected by how people who suffer from mental health issues can not voice out their problems in fear of societal repercussions, especially young people closer to her age. She believes that the only way to solve this problem is through awareness. She wants to become a psychologist so that she can influence a change in mindsets while also normalizing conversations around mental health.

IMG_9310.jpgReeya
Individual Change

Reeya has already been a part of various local leadership initiatives like Leadership Corner and Antaratam Nepal. From all the exposure that she’s received, she’s understood that change starts at a very personal level. She has seen many Nepali youth blame the Government of Nepal without trying to inspire change themselves. She believes that for Nepal to develop, change needs to come from an individual level and, every citizen must at least understand general laws. Therefore, Reeya wants to stay back in Nepal and work as a legal executor.

IMG_9514Rejina
Inspiring Women

Rejina has seen many cases of gender-based discrimination in her community. She has seen parents deprive their daughters of education and women confined within household chores.  Therefore, Rejina strongly feels about this problem and aims to be an advocate to stop these activities from happening while also inspiring women to take up opportunities.

IMG_0118Roshni
Fighting the Caste System

Roshni has been apart of many community activities and has stood up aganist discrimination through her work during these programs. Which is why she can’t tolerate the instances when her family has had to face discrimination. One of these instances saw one of her family members barred from entering a temple due to caste-based discrimination, but as soon as her father  donated to the temple, her family members were re-invited with respect.

Roshni was appalled to see how respect walked hand-in-hand with affluence. This moment reinvigorated her stand against discrimination. Which is why she wants to create a positive impact in her community by eradicating such practices altogether.

IMG_0003Sanu
Leadership through Adversity

Sanu has always experienced discrimination, sometimes for her caste and sometimes for her gender. Coming from the small village of Malta, her family was discriminated aganist for their caste and while her family reeled under societal discrimination, Sanu was being denied opportunities as a woman in the family. While her brother accessed many opportunities, Sanu can barred from attending dance classes. Regardless of her lack of opportunities, she has always created opportunities for herself.

She is studying computer science on scholarship from Samaanta Foundation and even as she continues to face discrimination at her college, she stays strong, never letting other people dictate her path in life. She believes that leadership doesn’t always have to be big and flashy, sometimes it can be small and humble too, which is why she wants to stand not as a successful leader, but more as a role-model for all the other women in her community.

IMG_9926Saraswoti
Mental Health First

Saraswoti believes in the power of the country’s youth. She understands that for the country to prosper, the youth of the country need to take up the responsibility for its success. But while the future of the country depends on the youth, the country offers little to help them prosper as healthy thinking individuals. Saraswoti herself has gone through many mental health issues in her life but because educational institutions don’t prioritize the psychology of its students with many young students have to live with being stigmatized because of this. Saraswoti advocates for psychiatrists and guidance counsellors inside schools with further counselling programs to help young minds identify and deal with mental health issues. She says that these positions should be ‘mandatory’ inside all educational systems.

IMG_0101Sarisma
Power of the Voice

Sarisma says that she has always been good at public speaking. She’s participated in almost all the programs her school as hosted and has even initiated some. She looks at her confidence as a gift and constantly makes a point of using her voice to help the people around her. She stands up for women, she speaks out against bullying and has even facilitated the formation of a ‘Student’s Committee’ at her school. She sees herself as a politician in the future, using her voice even further to inspire change in her society.

IMG_0054Sashi
Economies of Change

Watching many of her compatriots go overseas for work has always affected Sashi. She sees this as her country losing valuable human resources to other countries which is why she wants to work on empowering rural households to be economically self-reliant and viable. Coming from Lamjung, she wants to help turn her district into a tourist hub so that people from the district can find work at home by setting up restaurants and homestays. With an innovative and entrepreneurial mind, Sashi believes that the only way forward for Nepal is through economic independence.

IMG_0359Surja
Change through Discipline

Surja believes that for positive change to happen in society, people need to stop being so money-minded and show kindness and humanity towards others. She says that she has seen the rich treat disadvantaged people with disdain. She says that she has also seen people on public vehicles refuse to seat mothers with babies or even older people. This she says is a result of a lack of discipline and the youth of today need to prioritize humanity over solely money-making agendas.

IMG_9565.jpgTimila
Change Hides Within Words

Timila wants to a journalist. She has seen many instances of social disturbance especially caused by over drinking. She says that there are people in her own family prone to alcohol abuse who frequently cause problems for her and her community. She understands that confronting them head-on is not the best approach and chooses the subtle approach of journalism. She wants to talk to the inebriated, not in her society but across her country, and show them the negative effects alcohol abuse has on families and societies. She believes that battles ahead need to be fought with a sharp pen and a knowledgeable mind and she wants to use her clout as a journalist to write the wrongs in society.

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9 Ways the LEAD Course Will Change Your Life

Are you looking to get out of your comfort zone? Do you want to be exposed to new ways of learning and thinking? Care to challenge your capabilities? If so, the LEAD Course may be the perfect program for you! Look at 9 different ways joining the LEAD Course could change your life.

WFGA-WLEAD Activities-Nepal 2016-Nayantara Gurung (49)
Alumni, board members and staff at the 2016 Annual General Meeting of Women LEAD Nepal.

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