Written by Menuka Gurung, a 2011 LEADer and intern at the Women LEAD Nepal office.
Women LEAD held a two day storytelling workshop for the LEADers in the Advocacy Track, led by one of our volunteers, Megan. Megan works as a dance and ESL teacher in Kathmandu and writes Nepali children’s stories for radio. On January 7th and 8th, she taught 6 workshop participants how to deliver a story to attract the attention of an audience and make them relate to it.
In the beginning of the session, we discussed children’s stories and found that there was a bit of magic in every story, where everything seemed to be possible, and there was always a fun element to it. We got a chance to write our own stories based on situations we were given. Everybody was excited about it as the situations were really different and we were allowed to create our own story. Megan gave us feedback and the workshop participants gave each other suggestions about how to improve their story even more. I got feedback to use more dialogue than description and more direct speeches, which really helped me improve my story. Most of us had not been fond of writing stories in the past, but this workshop was more like a fun, open discussion.
The atmosphere in the room changed when Megan brought up the topic of women’s issues. She told us to write about a women’s issue that we think has an impact on our community. We wrote all the issues we face as women: cat calling, street harassment, gender inequality, dowry system, family pressure, rape and early marriage. Then she showed a picture of a baby in a mother’s womb and told us to write a story about what we felt after seeing that picture. Though the picture was not clear, somehow I felt that it was a female fetus. The red color around her body showed pain and struggle to me. I felt as if it was showing the pain of the female fetus because she was about to be aborted, and some of the other girls also thought the same. However, some girls took the pictures in a positive way. They wrote a story where the baby is happy to come into the world and how s/he is excited to see their mother. We had an open discussion about women’s issues and shared
our personal stories, which was a bit emotional.
The second day of the workshop, everyone came with their stories. My story was about my grandmother’s stereotyped thinking about daughters, how she treated my mother for not having a grandson, how my father supported her in spite of all this, and how this motivated my mother to give us a better career. Here are some of the other stories were
discussed on that day:
- A girl is harassed in the cinema when she was a child and that incident inspired her to be an activist and fight for women’s rights.
- A poor girl is molested by her boss, but instead of doing what her boss wanted she follows her principles and becomes successful.
- The conflict women face between family pressure and career development.
With Megan’s help we were able to improve our writing skills and now we know how to write a good story. It was a helpful workshop for all of us and we are still working on our stories to make them better. When we finish writing them, we will translate them in Nepali and broadcast them on the radio in February.