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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE HYATT WOW WOMEN ACHIEVERS AWARD 2019

The third edition of the Hyatt WOW Women Achievers Award 2019 honoured five women in different fields of expertise in recognition of their passion for excellence, their brilliance, their resilience and their spirit to make a difference.

General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Rajesh Ramdas presented the welcome address lauding women achievements, and shared a tribute to his mother as the biggest influence in his life.

Charu Chadha, Editor of WOW magazine hosts the event.

Rooted in our traditions is the sound of the Dhime played during jatras and festivals. Mythology tells us that the sound of the dhime was Lord Shiva’s creation. The instrument was the domain of men until Indira Lachhimasyu battled societal norms, mastered the dhime, and went on to create an all girls group called the Dhime Girls.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Dorje Dolma, Author of the YAK GIRL

The three women who have been strong influences in Dorje’s life; her birth mom Dolma Tsering, her adoption mom Jennifer Cleary and her Rokpa Childrens Home mom Lea Wyler honoured on stage.

Keynote speaker Dorje Dolma, the author of Yak Girl shares her life story moving the audience to tears and laughter. Hers is a story of courage, fortitude and change. Dorje’s story tells you what it means to be a child, a woman and a man in Upper Dolpa. It is not just about hardships because life can be hard anywhere, even in the capital, even if you are earning, even if you have it all. Her story brings to life, the raw intensity of human experience… of being happy with the little things, the simplicity of relationships, acceptance of life, the uncertainty of illness, survival and death, and in it all, the one thing that keeps us all alive: hope.

Dorje made the journey from a remote part of Nepal to the capital and onwards to America. Hers is a story of the test of character, survival, grit and ability… all from the eyes of a little girl who shepherded yaks and fought off snow leopards even as she tried to laugh and play and survive.

AWARDS

Hyatt Regency Kathmandu and WOW – World of Women came together to present honours in five categories – entrepreneurship, arts, social service, leadership and the title of Inspiring Woman of the Year 2019. The awards are a tribute to the unrelenting spirit of achievement and womanhood. The nominees for the awards are women relentlessly pursuing their passion but with a focus on greater change and leadership. Each category had three nominees that was presented by the WOW editorial and research teams. A panel of eminent women as the jury made the final selections.

THE JURY

The panel of judges for 2019 themselves are distinguished achievers. They were felicitated on stage by Director of Media9, publishers of Business 360 and WOW magazines, Hemant Golchha.

Rita Shrestha represents the owning company of Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Taragaon Regency Hotels and is a humanitarian supporting social causes.

Vidushi Rana is the Marketing and Branding Director of Kiran Shoes widely recognised for the Goldstar brand. She has been the central figure in rejuvenating Goldstar and bringing the Nepali brand into the spotlight again.

Mannsi Agrawal is an economics gold medallist, corporate trainer, motivational speaker and specialises in children’s photography. Involved in research of scriptures of the Hindu Mythology, she is a motivator and an idea generator at heart.

Yumiko Asakuma is the Chief Representative for Japan International Cooperation Agency  Nepal. She began her career in JICA in 1993 in the social development cooperation department and diversified her work experience in various departments of JICA office which included Industrial and mining development study, grant aid cooperation, training group and representative of JICA India office.

A graduate of University of Colorado, Denver, Rahisha Shrestha Shah is on the Board of Directors of Jawalakhel Group of Industries. She is passionate about brand building and communications, and is working on an innovative project catering to children.

Srijana Jyoti is the Chief Branding Officer of Syakar Trading Company of the Jyoti Group. She oversees marketing, advertising, design and public relations of the company. Besides she is a proponent of economic and social empowerment of women and girls.

A graduate of University of Colorado, Denver, Rahisha Shrestha Shah is on the Board of Directors of Jawalakhel Group of Industries. She is passionate about brand building and communications, and is working on an innovative project catering to children.

Srijana Jyoti is the Chief Branding Officer of Syakar Trading Company of the Jyoti Group. She oversees marketing, advertising, design and public relations of the company. Besides she is a proponent of economic and social empowerment of women and girls.

Namrita Puri is the spouse of the Ambassador of India to Nepal. She is also the President of the Indian Women’s Association, Kathmandu which is actively engaged in humanitarian and philanthropic work with women and children in Nepal.

The honours in the five categories were presented by Governor of Province 3, CNN Hero 2010, founder of Maiti Nepal, and an inspiring woman icon who has touched the lives of millions of women, Hon. Anuradha Koirala.

CATEGORY: ENTREPRENEURSHIP

NOMINEE
Sneha Koirala
Founder of Studio Sarcastic

Sneha used to doodle since she was a kid. However, with her, doodling was not just reduced to a hobby. Her passion got translated into a business idea and that’s how Studio Sarcastic came into existence. Established in November 2016, the response to her design creations has been overwhelming.

NOMINEE
Khushbu Dangol
Founder of Oodni Boutique

Khushbu started her journey as a designer by converting her school notebook sketches into full-fledged creations. Oodni Boutique came into being in 2011. There has been no looking back since. Khushbu is today a household name in a competitive market that sees boutiques open and close almost every other day. In 2017, she also opened a branch for her boutique in the United States.

HONOREE
Sajal Pradhan
Co-founder of Best Pani

Sajal Pradhan is an environmentalist working for sustainability. In 2015, she Co-founded Best Paani, an organisation that specialises in research and development, and the installation of sustainable water systems.

Best Paani works with the vision of creating a world where every person has equitable access to clean water and the organisation uses environmentally sound technologies and 100% locally available resources.

“Realising that we are part of a solution and not part of the problem. Seeing that the lives of thousands are enhanced through our work in enabling safe water access. Knowing that our employees’ and their kids’ lives will be better as a direct result of our team’s work. Being constantly thrown into exciting new situations and having to learn to adapt as a result of it. Gaining freedom as a woman in a largely patriarchal society that may have otherwise convinced me to compromise my agency in pursuit of social security by putting up with unfair social relationships and gender-unfriendly work culture”.

Sajal Pradhan

CATEGORY: THE ARTS

NOMINEE
Indira Lachhimasyu
Dhime Girls

Indira Lachhimasyu is the first female to play the Dhime bajaa, a traditional Newari drum. At a time when girls were not even allowed to touch the instrument, not only did she learn to play the Dhime, she went on to master it. At 15, Indira got together a group of young women students and created the first group of girls to play the instrument. Now known as the Dhime girls.

NOMINEE
Nayantara Gurung Kakshpati
Co-founder of Photo Kathmandu, Nepal Picture Library and Photo.circle.

A journalist-turned visual artist, NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati, is the Co-founder of photo.circle, a photography platform that has facilitated learning, networking, publishing and marketing opportunities for Nepalis. In 2010, she Co-founded the Nepal Picture Library; a digital photo archive that strives to document a ground-up history of the Nepali people. And in 2015 she Co-founded Photo Kathmandu, Nepal’s first international photography festival.

HONOREE
Akanchha Karki
Co-founder of Katha Ghera

Akanchha Karki is a theatre practitioner, counselling psychologist and a lover of arts and aesthetics. She co-founded Katha Ghera, where audiences share their life stories and performers act on the spot.

Established in 2017, Katha Ghera, a woman led group has been running as an independent and self sustained theater group.

Engaging in playback theatre for Akanchha is a way of fighting gender stereotypes and cultural misrepresentations, especially of women.

“I want to bring out those voices that have been suppressed since generations. It is my way of fighting gender stereotypes and cultural misrepresentations, especially of women. I am doing Vagina Monologue in Nepali and in future I want to create #metoo story’s performances including stories of harassment in work and other places”. – Akanchha Karki

CATEGORY: Social Service / Activism

NOMINEE
Hima Bista
Campaign Initiator, Rage Against Rape

Hima Bista is one of the initiators of the campaign, Rage Against Rape. The movement started in January 2018 in Nepal to bring the rampant cases of rape, violence against girls, women and children to the notice of media, citizens and the government. After the brutal rape and murder of Nirmala Panta in Kanchanpur on July 26, 2018, the movement had taken a structured and intense path. The group now is beyond one incident but is seeking #JusticeForAllRapeVictims which calls for policy changes and calls for advocating against impunity and silence of the state.

NOMINEE
Angeela Shrestha
Founder and Director of Project Humane Nepal.

Angeela Shrestha is the Founder and Director of Project Humane Nepal, an animal welfare education organisation based in Nepal. After watching a shocking video of a street dog being brutally killed by Nepalese police, Angeela decided to dedicate herself to help end such suffering. After a crowd funding campaign, Project Humane Nepal was launched in May 2015 with Angeela’s return to Kathmandu and the help of volunteers. PHN is the first Nepalese organisation of its kind dedicated to raising awareness and empowering youth to make a difference in the lives of Nepal’s street dogs.

HONOREE
Padma Khayargoli
Nepal Self Defense Association Bhaktapur

Padma Khayargoli is the Vice-President of Nepal Self Defense Association Bhaktapur. Padma provides self defense training in many districts across the country, and aims to regulate self defense training programs in 77 districts of the country.

A medical doctor at Kathmandu Hospital was sexually molested by his own uncle. She defended herself from being raped. This idea of being one’s own saviour was what motivated Padma Khayargoli to continue her journey as a self-defense trainer.

“Women are much more likely to be victims of sexual harassment because more often than not women lack power and self-confidence that makes them vulnerable. Our society forces women to suffer in silence women no matter what has happened to them as it brings shame to the family. If women are able to and encouraged to be vocal about their experiences, then sexual violence will be minimised. In most cases, women feel embarrassed to speak up or report their cases and instead choose to hide their pain. In addition, women need to realise that we are not bound to serve men, we complement one another. We are not there to tend to their sexual pleasures or their needs. We need to believe in ourselves as well as change how society views women”. – Padma Khayargoli

CATEGORY: LEADERSHIP

NOMINEE
Yulia Koirala
Founder and Director of Sushila Arts Academy

Yulia Koirala is the Founder and Director of Sushila Arts Academy that was established in Nepal in the year 2012. Her passion is to support and promote the arts in Nepal. One of the Academy’s contributions is to provide 90 scholarship seats yearly to talented, committed, underprivileged or financially limited Nepali children and youth in various forms of dance, music, art and theater.

NOMINEE
Dr. Prativa Pandey
Co-founder, Daayitwa Nepal

Dr. Prativa Pandey is the Co-founder of the Daayitwa Nepal Public Service Fellowship Program, a platform for students and young professionals to support public sector institutions with technical research. Prativa is also the Founder and CEO of Catalyst Technology, a science and technology research and product development company.

HONOREE
Sita Adhikari
Co-founder of Empower Generation

After leading various women’s groups for more than a decade, Sita Adhikari decided to start her own business. Since it operations in 2012, Empower Generation has created over 20 women-led businesses, employing 300 female distribution agents who go from village-to-village, selling, maintaining and collecting repayments for products. Sita Adhikari’s organisation has sold almost 70,000 products such as solar-powered mobile phone chargers, flashlights and rechargeable batteries, providing around 300,000 Nepalis with access to cleaner, safer light and power.

Sita, a social activist and mother of two, always wanted to boost the financial independence of Nepali women by addressing the issue of energy poverty.

Her formula for success: a hyperlocal distribution network where products are marketed and sold by trusted women who live in the heart of rural communities.

“We are planning to scale up, not only in Nepal but in India as well. A replication of my business model is being established there. Also small models of Empower Generation are being established in remote villages of Myanmar. We recently merged with Pollinate Energy which has created big scope. We are able to reach remote villages of Nepal where we are empowering them and providing the villagers with solar energy and life improving goods”. – Sita Adhikari

CATEGORY: Inspiring Woman of the Year 2019

NOMINEE
Mohna Ansari
Advocate

As the only female member of the country’s human rights commission, Mohna Ansari fights for Nepal’s most marginalised. Mohna is a lawyer from a lower middle-class Muslim family from Nepalgunj. Her position is the highest held by a Muslim woman in Nepal’s modern history. She was the first to oppose the deployment of the army to deal with Madhesi agitation and also the first to speak publicly against it.

NOMINEE
Mira Rai
Trail Runner

30-year-old Mira Rai is an international trail runner. Her unlikely journey from school dropout in a remote Nepali village to Maoist child soldier to national sports hero is a story that has inspired many. A chance encounter led her to take up the sport of ultra-running in 2014. Since then, she has rapidly ascended the global ranks, winning prestigious titles including National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year 2017. Recently the ultra-marathon runner – Mira Rai – has been honoured with the ‘Asian Game Changer Award’ in New York.

HONOREE
Uma Devi Badi
Badi Movement

MOST INSPIRING WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2019 was conferred to a fighter, an achiever, a woman who took it upon herself to stand against the system, a woman who has left her mark in Nepali history – the 57 year old Uma Devi Badi who is commander of the Badi movement which fights to secure rights and opportunities and change the perception of the Badi community and Badi women with their perceived association with prostitution, also regarded as their traditional occupation. She works for the welfare of over 60,000 Badis across the country… and inspires many, many more.

In 2007, around 500 Badi activists from 23 districts had started their journey from the villages to Singha Durbar putting forward a 26-point demand under the leadership of Uma Devi. Despite making numerous pledges and staging peaceful demonstrations, their voices went unheard.

Uma Devi led the procession from Maitighar to Singha Durbar. When they reached the gate of the government seat, security personnel closed the gates, Uma Devi climbed the gate semi-naked in protest.

In BBC’s list of ‘100 Inspiring and Influential Women from around the world for 2018’, Uma Devi Badi was ranked tenth in recognition of her work.

Born in Salyan district in 1965, Uma Devi Badi is recognised as an epitome of struggle. She is a Provincial Assembly Member of Sudur Paschim Province in Nepal, elected in 2017.

PANEL DISCUSSION

In synchronisation with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day: #balanceforbetter, a lineup of fabulous all male panelists: Atulya Pandey, Amun Thapa and Ishan Raj Onta were in conversation with moderator, Amuda Mishra to talk about masculinity, building a gender balanced world and the women who inspire them to be better men.

amuda

AMUDA MISHRA

Amuda Mishra is the Founder and Executive Director of the Ujyalo Foundation, a non-profit organisation that focuses on sustainable development in rural Nepal by conducting programmes that promote innovation, encourage social enterprise and increase capacity building through community based projects and cost effective technologies. Besides her immense passion for community development, Amuda is a strong advocate for women empowerment and is involved in various leadership programs that focus on elevating the status of women.

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AMUN THAPA

Amun Thapa is the Founder of Sastodeal.com, co-founder of Anthropose, co-owner of Irish Pub, Chhahari Production, Sasto Book, Sasto Travel among others. Amun started Sastodeal.com at a time when the e-commerce was an alien concept and online shopping not quite the trend it is today. Amun is an initiator, dreamer and doer with innovation in his heart.

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ATULYA PANDEY

Atulya Pandey is the Co-founder of Pagevamp, a web design company he launched in 2013. Atulya is an entrepreneur driven by innovation and impact. His company has resellers in over 40 countries and in just five years has collaborated with 16,000 small businesses worldwide. He believes learning how to invest in people and relationships is the most important skill for any entrepreneur.

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ISHAN RAJ ONTA

Ishan Raj Onta is the front-man of the band – The Elements. Ishan is not only a singer and composer but also a licensed lawyer. He got into music more seriously after the earthquake of 2015. The sound of the band is unique and there’s a story in each song. Created with inward reflection, Ishan mirrors a good heart and honest intention with his music.

Four very talented young women called the Kathmandu String Ensemble Girls Quartet performed on stage: Phoebe Shrestha and Avipsha Neupane on the violin, Sabina Maharjan on the viola and Iva Maharjan on the cello.