Young women and girls represent a strong force of change in Nepal. Although their participation is critical to building Nepal’s future, their voices are excluded from the decision-making process. The end of Nepal’s decade-long civil war in 2006 ushered in a promise of equality, yet women and other marginalised groups were left behind in the rebuilding phase. Key decisions in girls’ lives are often made without their input, such as on marriage, education, and citizenship. The government has taken steps to address the country’s gender inequality, but still much more still needs to be done at an institutional and community level to empower women to lead change and pave the way for gender equality.
Women LEAD Nepal aims to get women involved in the country’s decision-making process, which it sees as crucial for a peaceful and inclusive society. The organisation provides young women, aged 15 to 24, with the skills and knowledge to become leaders in diverse career fields, such as engineering, business, politics, arts, and more. Women LEAD Nepal also believes that boys must be included in the conversation in order to help change their peers’ attitudes and perceptions of gender. The organisation’s intensive, year-long LEAD (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Advocacy, and Development) course provides young women with leadership training, skills-building opportunities, mentoring and a peer-support network and university preparation. Participants, known as LEADers, are paired up with a mentor, a LEAD course alumni herself, who provides individual guidance throughout the year. LEADers then conduct their own after-school workshops helping younger boys and girls across Kathmandu acquire the skills they were taught. Women LEAD Nepal has a Board of Trustees in Nepal made up entirely of alumni, empowering them to take full ownership of the direction of the organisation. To date, Women LEAD Nepal has helped 1250 beneficiaries directly and hundreds more through sponsored events. Photos: NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati