Celebrating Womanhood 2015 Awardees

Amira Dali - Annapurna
Working for Women’s Empowerment through
Education and Environment Awareness

Amira Dali is well known to the international community as a woman of substance dedicated to women’s education and empowerment programs that contribute to the agricultural and overall development of Nepal. She was awarded a scholarship and graduated in Business Management from the prestigious University of Sofia in Tokyo. She was immediately offered countless jobs both in Japan and the USA but chose to return and work in Nepal. She was shocked to observe Nepal’s fast deteriorating environmental degradation in comparison to the beautiful lush environment of Japan. She immediately started Love Green Nepal and began planting trees with local communities. She understood the need to involve women in the Greenery campaign. She also focused on raising awareness, educating and skills development programs for women and girls.

She provided opportunities for many young women to pursue higher studies in Japan and encouraged them to return to contribute to the development of Nepal. She helped a group of women from an economically disadvantaged community to learn Baking in Japan. They have now returned and established Prakriti Baking business. Through Love Green Nepal, Amira has provided health services, savings opportunities and established Bio Gas facilities. Love Green Nepal has contributed significantly to the development of human resources and agro products in its 25 years of existence. Amira has also introduced the use of Tissue Culture in propagating various plants and crops.

She has played an important role in the last 30 years to help develop projects that are supported by JICA. Amira plays a key role in helping to keep Nepal-Japan ties strong.

Celebrating Womanhood Annapurna Award 2015 salutes Amira Dali for dedicating her skills and knowledge to the development of Nepali society through education and environmental programs.

 

Usha Sherchan - Bhagwati
Littérateur

Usha Sherchan was born into an affluent business family in the picturesque town of Pokhara. She credits the beauty of the serene Phewa lake and the majestic mountains for being motivational factors for her to enter into the literary world. Her writings encompass diverse issues with special focus on social transformation, women and nationalism.

Usha Sherchan believes that literature is the main driving force and gratification of her life. She has always been a strong pillar for the development of literary organizations. She contributed to the establishment of Gunjan Literary Organization that encourages and mentors women writers. She is the patron of Women’s Academy and is affiliated with and actively involved in various organizations: The Indigenous Singer’s Society, Pokhreli Youth Cultural Family, Pokherli Didi Bahini Samuha, New Publications, Koili Devi Music Fund and Naryan Gopal Trust.  

Najanmeka Aasthaharu ra Samakalin Pida ra Jagritika Sankhaghosh are well known poem compilations of Poetess Usha Sherchan. Akcharharuka Sibirbata is among  her famous works. Among her recent published works are her story compilation titled Tesro Rang. She is currently in the process of writing a novel based on sexual violence She is also an outstanding  lyricist with musical albums, Abhipsa, Sanchayan, Mero Mato Mero Geet, Sambeda and Aakash Chhune Rahar to her credit. Her noteworthy contribution to Nepali literature is the compilation of historical writings and literary creations by women. She also edits and translates songs.

Celebrating Womanhood honors Littérateur Usha Sherchan with the Bhagawati Award 2015 for her untiring efforts and dedication towards the transformation of society through her literary creations. 

 

Laxmi Magar - Bhawani
Mountain Biker

26 years old Laxmi Magar has been actively participating in and making waves in the field of mountain biking for the past seven years. While studying fine arts at Lalitkala campus in Kathmandu, she participated in a cycling race from Kathmandu to Nagarkot which proved to be the turning point of her life. She was encouraged by her friends to join the race since she used to commute by cycle to and from college every day. Without actually taking the race very seriously, she participated in it on a borrowed bike and ended up winning second place.  This was a self-discovery for Laxmi on her true calling which she fervently followed from then onwards.

Initially, Laxmi could not afford to buy a real mountain bike so she participated in various competitions borrowing bikes from friends and sometimes with the financial assistance of well-wishers. Eventually, she bought a mountain bike worth Rs. 1,00,000/- on installment payment basis. The seed money was contributed by different individuals.

She has participated in approximately 30 different competitions at national and international levels. She has also participated many times in the Yak Attack competition organized in the Annapurna range which is considered to be among the five toughest routes for such competitions. Her continuous participation in the South Asian level cycling competitions prove her tenacity and strength. The artistic side of her also surfaces in many of her paintings which are mostly of places she has seen on her cycling adventures.

Celebrating Womanhood Navadevi Award is proud to present the Bhawani Award 2015 to Laxmi Magar for her achievements in sports and for her courage in opening up a new avenue for women in the world of sports.

 

Tulsa Kharel - Durga
Social Activist
Charpane, Jhapa

Fifty six year old Tulsa has played an important role in establishing emergency health and counseling service centers, leadership development training centers, schools for out of school girls and income generating opportunities for women in rural areas of Jhapa.

Defying a community that did not deem it necessary for daughters to be educated, Tulasa used to get up early each morning to finish her household chores and run off to school before anyone else had the chance to stop her. She managed to study till the eighth grade in this manner after which she was married off against her will to a boy of her parent's choice. It was not easy for young Tulasa to shoulder the role of the daughter-in-law of a large extended family. In time she gave birth to four children.

Tulasa's health started deteriorating and she was bedridden for a long time during which she had time to contemplate on her life. After recovering from a near death situation, Tulasa followed her heart's calling and started working for the lesser privileged. She worked late hours and got up at 3 am to tend to her housework balancing her home and social responsibilities.

She established the Rural Concern Group which she ran from under a tree and one bag. The organization later moved into a one room cottage from which they functioned for the next 12 years.  Gradually, Tulasa started receiving support from the local DDC, VDC and other organizations which enabled her organization to construct a six-room building. The office is a solace center for women requiring help and support of any kind. In addition it houses a day-care center for children of women working as laborers, providing them with a safe environment, food and education. The Rural Concern Group which earlier comprised of a 6 member working committee has more than 2000 women members today. They have expanded their services to savings and loan and agriculture cooperatives. Tulasa has further established an organic farm providing income to women.

Celebrating Womanhood awards Tulsa Kharel with the Durga Award 2015 for her courage, determination, dedication, untiring efforts and achievements in empowering women and for selflessly working towards uplifting  the lesser privileged.

 

Sabitra Koirala - Karuna
Health Worker and Social mobilizer
Dhading

She is the Chairperson of the Network of Voluntary Health Workers in Dhading. She has helped over 1600 young girls, mothers and pregnant women during the last 24 years of her work as a Voluntary Health Worker.

Sabitra is the only educated daughter in a family of 8 sisters. She trained as a health worker after her studies. Initially she met with a lot of resistance and ridicule when promoting Vitamin A and polio drops in the rural areas. However, she countered these derogatory remarks with love and care. Her persistence has resulted in fewer infant deaths.

She has consistently fought against primitive unhygienic delivery methods and continues to sensitize the community through songs that raise awareness about health issues. She walks miles to remote areas to sensitize women about prevention and care in cases of prolapse. She has helped to form mother’s groups that are now aware about cleanliness, mother and childcare, family planning and vaccinations that contribute to a healthy society.

Sabitra pens down her thoughts and feelings into beautiful songs which are popular among the  different women's groups.  She has also contributed to forming women’s savings and credit groups and ensuring women access to social justice. Sabitra Koirala is now a well-known and respected figure in Dhading because she is caring and always ready to extend a helping hand to those in distress.

Celebrating Womanhood Karuna Award 2015 salutes Sabitra Koirala for her consistent and selfless efforts in sensitizing and providing access to health services beyond the call of duty.

 

Radhika Karki Thapa - Laxmi
Entrepreneur and social mobilizer
Itahari

Radhika Karki Thapa  is the epitome of economic independence which plays a significant role in empowering women. Radhika was born into a poor farmer’s family. However, she was fortunate to have a supportive family. Her father fought against his family to educate his children and encouraged them to listen to the radio and read newspapers. Her mother defied the tradition that it was a man’s prerogative to till the fields by taking up the plough and allowing her daughters to do the same.

Unfortunately, Radhika failed her SLC exams and was unable to continue her education. She learnt sewing and took up a job for Rs. 5000 a month for a year and also trained women in tailoring.  She invested in two sewing machines from her savings and set up a tailoring service that helped to send her younger brothers to school.

Radhika married the man of her choice but her happiness was short-lived, for after a few years he married a second time. She handled herself with great dignity and compromised with the situation by putting across her conditions where upon they came to an understanding that the second wife would look after the home and children whilst Radhika continued her studies and expanded her business.  

Today she has expanded her New Radhika Handicraft  employs and trains women teaching them driving, tailoring, plumbing and cooking.  Her efforts have helped many impoverished and disadvantaged women to become economically independent.

Celebrating Womanhood Laxmi Award 2015 salutes Radhika Karki Thapa for overcoming personal challenges to reach greater heights and for opening the doorway to self-esteem and economic independence.

 

Laxmi Giri - Mahamaya
Actor

Laxmi Giri has been an integral part of Nepali film, television and stage for the last 3 decades. She entered the world of acting as a child artiste at the age of 11. To date she has acted in over 100 films and 372 tele-serials. Laxmi Giri believes that acting is in her persona. She is the Vice Chairperson of the Film Development Board.

Everyone dreams of success built on individual talents. However, Laxmi was dismayed when she realized that the very same family and friends that loved her dancing and acting abilities as a child disapproved of her talents as she grew older. She had to give up acting and dancing for some time after marriage and began working at Nepal Rastra Bank. Fortunately for Laxmi, the future had other plans. She participated in a Cultural program organized by the bank and won first prize. This motivated her to pursue her dream of becoming an actor and she gave up her banking career. This career change brought other challenges but Laxmi was determined to follow her dreams.

Today she is well known to both film and television audiences. Through her portrayals she has influenced countless people and motivated many to follow their hearts and dreams. She remains dedicated in her pursuit of making the world of acting secure and honorable.

Celebrating Womanhood Mahamaya Award 2015 salutes Laxmi Giri for her grit and determination in following her heart and motivating others to do the same through herchosen field.

 

Nirmala Bagchan - Saraswati
Bringing Change through education
Kailali

Nirmala Bagchan was married off whilst she was studying in grade IX. She went to live in a neighborhood where domestic quarrels were part of the daily routine. She realized that the women were not treated with respect or  even given due love and affection because they were uneducated and unable to speak up for themselves. This motivated Nirmala to pursue her studies after a break of 25 years. She began going to school with her youngest son and successfully passed her exams. Along with her daily chores, Nirmala would get up each morning at 3 to study.

Once she became academically qualified, she initiated adult literacy classes for 40 Dalit women in her area. She went on to work with young girls and boys working at different tea shops and restaurants in Dhangadi and facilitated free education for them in different schools. Navadurga School and Saraswati continue to offer free education to such children recommended by Nirmala.

She is currently working at educating and empowering near about 300 Dalit women from 13 districts. Six adult literacy classes are being run on a regular basis offering educational opportunities and awareness classes to women of Kalali. Nirmala today heads the Women Upliftment Centre and is the Chairperson of  the Human Rights Security Network . She dreams of establishing a special educational program for housewives who are unable to continue their studies after marriage. She has already received support of Malika Boarding School in the form of classrooms but the program is awaiting official permission from the Education Board.

Celebrating Womanhood Saraswati Award 2015 salutes Nirmala Bagchan for her consistent efforts in providing access to education to girls and women and wishes her success in fulfilling her dreams of an equal society for the lesser privileged.

 

Ramkali & Surendra Lohar - Shakti
Mithila Municipality, Dhanusha

Born into an impoverished family of Dhanusha, Ramkali was forced to marry at the tender age of 11 to Surendra Lohar who was a blacksmith. Ramkali pleaded with him several times to teach her the trade but he refused because society believed that only men could become blacksmiths. Eventually he gave in to Ramkali and began by allowing her to do the easier jobs. She was a quick learner and eventually began working together including selling the products at the local market. This inspired several other women to learn the trade.

Ramkali began participating in programs organized by Dhanusha Sewa Samiti and Land Rights Platforms and learnt about the possibilities of working for landless, poor, Dalits and women. Coming from an economically poor family meant that she had to work at night at her blacksmith shop and utilize the daylight hours to participate in community programs. Over a period of time, Ramkali saved enough to buy a buffalo. Soon she sold milk worth Rs. 52,000.00 and efficiently managed both the blacksmith and agro businesses. She bought 8 more buffaloes and set aside some savings to buy land at Dhalkebaar instead of ornaments as suggested by her husband. This was the first time in the history of the Lohars that anyone had earned enough to purchase land.

Ramkali’s achievements resulted in her being appointed Vice Chairperson of Dhanusha District Land Rights Committee. She used this opportunity to re-integrate 56 families into their homes that were being held by the Zamindars. This of course enraged the zamindars but Ramakala did not flinch from her mission. She prospered both in her entrepreneurship and social activities and was again able to buy more land where she grows vegetables. She has also built a home for her family.

Women in the Terai suffer domestic violence because of the dowry system. She states that women should be provided education, not dowries. She successfully married off her two daughters without any dowries. She is a living example of what can be achieved through dedication, belief and hard work.

Celebrating Womanhood Shakti Award 2015 salutes Ramkali Lohar for her vision in becoming economically empowered and her continued dedication and commitment to helping the landless and acknowledges the supportive and positive role played by Surendra Lohar in believing in his wife’s capabilities.