Month: February 2013

Women LEAD: Sonu’s Story on Street Harassment in Nepal

The picture above is of a flash mob raising awareness on street harassment on January 12 with LEADers, School Leadership participants, and other girls from our partner-schools participating. In honor of International Anti-Street Harassment Week, we asked our staff and participants to share stories about their experiences with street harassment in Kathmandu. Sonu, our Program Manager, shares her story today. My home is near the Thamel area. I usually prefer using that way because it is a short cut and if I don’t walk from there it takes a lot of time to reach my home. Every day when I use that street I face a problem. Today, I would like to share one of the most troublesome moments in my life when I faced street harassment. One day I was going home late because there was some urgent work I needed to finish that day. There was no public transportation around there because it was almost 8 pm so I was in hurry and afraid because there was no one besides me in the …

International Women’s Day. Let’s Talk!

As I’m sure most of you are aware, there are a TON of days dedicated to celebrating, commemorating, and advocating various causes and/or achievements worldwide. I happen to think this is a wonderful thing. These days give advocates a chance to unite around the world to raise awareness and promote important issues that many people may otherwise know little about. However, there are SO many of these days, I for one, find it hard to keep track of them all. I often forget about them until the day-of, which is unfortunate, partly because I make a mean cupcake (and what better way to celebrate special days than with cupcakes!). I hate to admit it, but last year I completely forgot about International Women’s Day until March 8th (the day-of). I was slightly devastated by my forgetfulness, somewhat because I did not have any of the ingredients I needed to make cupcakes in-house, but mostly because I had missed out on opportunities to get involved in important events in my community that celebrated women’s achievements and advocated current issues important to …

Sanitation To Education – Inspiring Story of A Girl

Our campaign, which is to spread an promote awareness regarding sanitation, water and its effect on girls’ education has taken us to a school in a nearby urban slum area that is located in Gurgaon, India (New Delhi, National Capital Region). As a part of our ongoing awareness programs we are teaching children on how to follow good sanitation & hygiene practices and ways of obtaining safe drinking water. Through the program, one of our team members, Ms. Chinu, came in contact with Sarita, a student in a group of girls to whom she was teaching good practices to be followed on menstrual days. Sarita told Chinu that many girl students here are unfamiliar with the good hygiene practices to be followed during menstrual days, one of the key factors to the drop out rate of girls from schools. These rates are increasing and ultimately bolts their education and career. The girls told our team member startling facts about menstrual practices they are following during menstrual days. In many areas the girls and their mothers use …

Fawzia Koofi: Leading Afghanistan into a New Era

In third grade, my teacher taught our class a song where the lyrics stated all the U.S. Presidents in order, from George Washington to Bill Clinton. To this day, I still know (and occasionally sing) the song, with every election adding the newest incoming male U.S. President. Unfortunately, throughout the United States’ 239 year history, the U.S. has never experienced leadership from a female President. However, that is not the case in the rest of the world.  Setting extraordinary examples, women leaders serve in the country’s highest office in Liberia, Switzerland, Argentina, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Brazil, Kosovo, Malawi, San Marino, and South Korea. Recently, a campaign has begun supporting a female Presidential candidate in the most unlikely of countries – Afghanistan. Running for President of Afghanistan in 2014, Fawzia Koofi’s life has been a constant struggle. Left in the Afghan heat to die as an infant, Koofi’s mother believed death as a more sympathetic option than suffering through life as a female in Afghanistan.  Eventually changing her mind and rescuing Koofi from the scalding outdoor …

Women LEAD: Sophiya’s Inspiration

We asked our participants to name one woman who inspires them. Sophiya chose to highlight Jhamak Kumari Ghimire, a Nepali writer. For more information about Women LEAD, visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter. The woman that inspires me the most to follow my dreams is Jhamak Kumari Ghimire, a Nepali writer. Born with several physical disabilities and cerebral palsy, she writes with her left foot. She can hear but cannot speak and has never obtained any formal education. Despite these challenges, she has written several collections of poems, songs, stories and was recently awarded with the most prestigious literary award in Nepal, the Madan Puraskar for her autobiographical essay, “Jiban Kanda Ki Phool” (Is life a thorn or a flower?).  Acknowledged nationally and internationally, not just because she writes with her feet but because of her effective and efficient writing, she provides the insight that you can change your biggest weakness into your strength and achieve your dreams. For me, she is a paradigm of ‘impossible is nothing’.  She makes me believe: Yes …

Voters of Dependency

“Voting has become an empowering act for women. It gives women the feeling that they are independent to do what they want.” The words came from Smita Gupta, deputy editor at The Hindu, right after the five state elections in India 2012. The five states were Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa, and all of them had one thing in common: more women than men had gone to the ballot boxes across all the states. The biggest difference was seen in Goa with 85.97 percent women voting in comparison to 79.67 percent men. As I have mentioned earlier, Goa is on top when it comes to literacy rates and standard of living compared to rest of India. No one was therefore very surprised that they took the lead in voting. I read the statistics some months ago and concluded that “oh, education must be the answer”. Five months later I am not so sure about that any longer. The political parties in Goa are very effective in the work of setting up self-help groups …

Empower One: Change the Future of Many

It was in a small rural village in the state of Jharkhand, India, that I first met Naisban.  As we sat together on the floor of her home, I listened intently as she talked to me about the pressing issue of illiteracy in her community. In an area lacking proper sanitation and sufficient water supply, Naisban is one woman who is motivated to create far-reaching change. As we talked, I watched her eyes light up as she discussed the opportunities for development in her area. Unlike many women and children in India, she is fully literate, having been educated all the way through secondary school. A leader in her community, she has earned the respect of both the men and women through her initiation of meetings related to community development. Naisban believes that literacy is a powerful tool in the fight to empower girls and women around the world. Her goal is to see every woman and girl in her village become literate and for many years, Naisban has dedicated her time to educating women and young …

Giving Love to Amazing Women on Valentine’s Day

  Today is Valentine’s Day. Originally created to celebrate Saint Valentine,* today the holiday is most commonly recognized as a day to share feelings of romantic love. On this Valentine’s Day, I am slightly changing the meaning once again. Rather than recognizing feelings of romantic love, I propose we pay our respects, love and appreciation to those women who have paved the way before us and are now considered female trailblazers the world over. Anne Frank When given the diary for her 13th birthday in 1942, Anne Frank would have never guessed that she would become the voice of the Holocaust. The Diary of a Young Girl (also known as The Diary of Anne Frank), Frank’s account of her experiences hiding from the Germans during World War II, describes in detail the discrimination, frustrations and fears felt by Frank as well as the entire Jewish population. Translated into more than 70 languages, Frank’s diary now serves as a daily reminder of the importance of protecting human rights and equality around the world. Aung San Suu Kyi One of …

ONE BILLION RISING. Join in this V-Day!

1 in 3 women will sometime during her lifetime be a victim of rape, abused or another form of violence. It is a pandemic affecting mankind. One billion women and girls violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution! Today is V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and the official start date of the One Billion Rising campaign! Now Girls’ Globe is joining the One Billion Rising campaign. We will not tolerate violence against women! We will continue to raise our voices to end it! Girls, boys, women and men are RISING and DANCING all over the world! Check out the live stream and see a few snapshots below! I love this video from One Billion Rising Cape Town. I am rising. Join the revolution!

Women LEAD: Street Harassment in Nepal

Rajina Shrestha joined Women LEAD in 2010 as a participant, became one of our first interns, and is now studying bio-technology at Bishop Cotton Women’s University in India. In honor of V-Day’s “One Billion Rising” movement fighting violence against women, Rajina writes about her experience with street harassment in Kathmandu, Nepal. They taught me man is a social animal. That humans were always chained up with social responsibilities and rules in the society. What they failed to mention was that the rules, responsibilities and stigmas are higher for women. If I don’t speak up and respond, I am considered as the silent weak link someone can use for amusement as I wouldn’t dare complain. If I am brave enough to speak up, I am categorized as being too smart and being told “she deserves it”. Everyday, thousands of girls travel via public vehicles and in Nepal, that is probably the main place where eve teasing is at its worst. The conductors are either naive little children made fun of by the passengers or keep showing …