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Hyatt wow women achievers AWARD 2017

The HYATT WOW Women Achievers Award 2017, an annual event to honour women in different areas of achievement, was organized for the first time this year on March 6.

The awards is a tribute to the unrelenting spirit of achievement and womanhood, especially since 2016 was a landmark year for the women in Nepal having the country’s first woman President, first Woman Chief Justice, first Speaker of the house.

Women from five categories were honoured at the gala event that saw the participation of a distinguished panel who selected from the honorees, besides eminent members of society.

The honors were presented in the following categories:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Arts
  • Social Activism / Service
  • Leadership
  • Inspiring Woman of the Year 2017

The nominees were selected by the WOW editorial team recognized for their relentless pursuit of passion and work expertise with a focus on greater change and leadership. Each category had three nominees.

This year’s nominees were:

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Bina Shrestha of Shine Cleaning which provides professional cleaning and renovation services using modern technology, and focuses on increasing the efficiency of workers.

Aayusha Shrestha of AAMO Jewellery that offers a conceptual line of Nepali hand crafted jewellery using traditional methods and are a narrative of Nepal’s rich culture and heritage.

Mingma Diki Sherpa of Paila Shoes, a footwear brand that depicts the rich culture and art of Nepal, is eco-friendly and operates with the use of local resources and skills.

ARTS

Erina Tamrakar is a visual artist with a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts. Her works focus on women and their relationships, and convey a strong commentary on society and surroundings.

Reecha Sharma is an actor, model and VJ. She is known for her sheer versatility and talent as an actor and is recognised for the range of characters she plays gaining her wide acceptance and mass appeal.

Deeya Maskey is an actor known for her fearless choice of roles and has often picked taboo characterisations to bring social issues to light through the medium of films.

SOCIAL ACTIVISM / SERVICE

Santoshi Rana of Bihani Social Venture works for the rights of senior citizens in Nepal. Bihani believes that every person irrespective of age must re-engage, re-explore and re-live a rewarding life till the end.

Sharmila Thapa is the founder of Samida Women Development Forum, a network of single mothers and survivors of domestic violence. The forum manages an array of roles amongst which are scholarships for children of single mothers and carrying out counselling and advocacy campaigns for the rights of single mothers.

Dikchhya Chapagai of Pabitra Samaj Sewa Nepal provides care and shelter to those in dire need of help whether it is an abandoned new born or a homeless old person. Beyond the basics of shelter and food, Dikchhya gives them love and a sense of belonging and dignity.

LEADERSHIP

Amuda Mishra is the founder and Executive Director of The Ujyalo Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on sustainable development in rural Nepal by conducting programs that promote innovation, encourage social enterprise, and increase capacity building through community based projects. Amuda is also recognised for her young women leadership development program called EmpowHER.

Luna Shrestha Thakur is the founder of ChangeFusion Nepal, a non-governmental organization founded in September 2008 which channels opportunities creatively for aspiring change makers in diverse fields within social entrepreneurship. She supports social ventures and individuals who create value for People, Planet and Profit using four components: Mentorship, Knowledge, Funding and Networking.

Sumana Shrestha created a social media platform where a person could comfortably ask for ride from another person with the initiation of “Carpool Kathmandu” a facebook group which has over 120,000 members during the blockade. She also initiated medication for Nepal which aims to make health service easily accessible. Medication for Nepal was mentioned by Barack Obama during his speech in Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

INSPIRING WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2017

Bandana Rana is the first Nepali to be elected as a member of United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women.

Bhawani Rana is an entrepreneur and the first ever woman to be elected Vice President of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Co Founder of FWEAN.

Sapana Pradhan Malla is a Supreme Court Judge and the former President  of the Forum for Women, Law and Development. Due to her efforts more than 64 discriminatory laws of Nepal have been struck down.

PANEL OF JUDGES 2017

Pramada Shah President of Animal Nepal and a strong social activist working for women, children and animal rights.

Seema Golchha Director of Samsung Plaza and Vice President of Zonta Club and keen adventurer.

Pratima Pande Honorary Consul General of Italy, President of Nepal Britain Society and Alliance Francaise, Director of Kathmandu Valley Preservation trust and Vice President of Nepal Heritage Society. She also holds the distinction of Member of the British Empire.

Lily Thapa Founding Chairperson of Women for Human Rights that works for the social, political, economic and legal rights of widows in Nepal and South Asia. She is also General Secretary of South Asian Network for Women Empowerment and Development.

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

EXCLUSIVE

The event began with an invocation by a group of young girls between the ages of six and 13 from the Gargi School. They presented the swasti vedic chant for auspicious beginnings. The study of Vedas and Vedic chanting is primarily confined to males. The Gargi Gurukula is the brainchild of noted educationist and women’s activist Dr Angur Baba Joshi, and the school has become a cradle of learning of Vedas and Oriental culture for young girls.

The highlight of the awards was keynote speaker Maggie Doyne who shared three life events that have marked the course of her life. Maggie came to Nepal as a high school student in 2006 and stayed back. She then created a home for more than 50 children and built and runs a community school called Kopila which provides education to more than 350 kids. All this under the aegis of the blinknow foundation she established in 2007. She also runs a shelter for women in need. Maggie won the CNN Hero Award in 2015. Maggie’s work has been championed by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof as a cover story for The NYT Magazine, and has also been featured in the Guardian, Huffington Post, TIME, VH1, CNN, and DoSomething.org. She’s been named as Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year, honored by the Dalai Lama as an Unsung Hero of Compassion, used as an example for her groundbreaking work at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy and was also named one of the 30 most influential people under 30.

EU Ambassador Renjse Teerink spoke about being raised by a single mother and her personal journey to success.

General Manager of Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Sinead O’Reilly Henell presented the welcome address. Charu Chadha, Editor of WOW hosted the event.

Sabrina Singh was invited to speak about what it means to be a young Nepali woman today. Sabrina works for rural women entrepreneurship and leadership at Daayitwa, a campaign led by young Nepali leaders. She has studied Political Science and Anthropology at Swarthmore College, USA, where she graduated with Highest Honors and Phi Beta Kappa. Her interests are gender, social and economic justice. She will be attending Harvard Law School this fall to further her campaign in these areas. When she is not working, she loves to dance hip-hop, read and explore Nepal outside of Kathmandu.

HER SPEECH

Since the theme for international women’s day is Be Bold For Change, I thought I’d speak on taking risks and what that has meant for me.
The final few weeks of college were mentally exhausting for me. It was not just because the mega earthquake had happened back home and I was in the United States. It was not even because my finals were coming up. I was stressed because I had a tall order. I had a difficult decision to make: whether to live and work in the United States after graduation or return home to Nepal to work at an NGO. I used to take long walks by myself very often, thinking about my life and why I was where I was.

Like many Nepalis, I had worked hard to come to the United States. Like many Nepalis, my parents had worked awfully hard to make sure that happened. I had done well academically and, upon graduation, had a job lined up in Washington DC at a social impact consulting firm. It sounded exciting: I had an opportunity to consult on how to make international development projects more impactful – a topic I had critically studied during my college years. Plus, the prospect of living in DC – a cosmopolitan city with many of my friends already there.
Yet, something was amiss. The young, DC crowd, the ‘work hard and play hard’ lifestyle, the mentorship and international development exposure I would gain, the boost to my resume – it was all too … desirable. Maybe it was all too predictable, too stable, too comfortable.

Back home in Nepal, a young, talented group of Nepalis at an NGO called Daayitwa were beckoning. Come work for rural entrepreneurship and leadership in Nepal, they were saying, that too in collaboration with the government of Nepal. It all sounded ridiculous. Nepal was – is- fraught with instability. All my friends were steadily losing hope that anything substantial could be done here, and many who studied their Bachelors in Nepal were actively trying to apply for Masters abroad. My parents, of course, did their duty and reminded me that the pay would be bad and work would be slow. Wouldn’t it be a waste of your talent? They said.

During those long walks across campus all my myself I thought maybe. Maybe yes, it will be a waste of my talent and time to go back to Nepal. Maybe I will not be able to do impactful work. Maybe the opportunity cost of the network and experience I would give up at DC would be high.

But isn’t that what my twenties are for? There was a lot of uncertainty in Nepal, but the prospect of traveling to parts of Nepal I had never seen was also exciting. There was not a lot of prestige to come back home, but there was meaning in doing work that would impact fellow Nepalis.

We are often taught to be risk-averse. We are often taught to strive for a stable, comfortable, financially sound lifestyle, preferably abroad, with milestones to mark every success. Especially as girls and women, how many times have we been taught to prioritize safety over adventure, family name over freedom, productivity over exploration?

In my work with rural women entrepreneurs in Palpa, Gulmi, and Ramechhap I uncovered other gendered dimensions of risk. For women in Kathmandu, family and marriage are generally periods of taking breaks away from work and career. But for many women in rural Nepal, having kids to take care of, especially with minimum husband and family support, are often catalysts for taking financial risks to start businesses. One of the many inspirational women I have had the honor of meeting is Rupa Hitangi from Palpa. Before she became a micro entrepreneur, she had an alcoholic husband, two small kids to support, and employment in someone else’s land. Because her children’s future were at stake, she convinced her husband to go abroad and, the money he earned and sent back, she invested in goats and a small plot of land and started her own business. Today, Rupa finances her kids’ education and lives an independent life. She is one of those women who have struggled and lived the theme ‘Be Bold For Change.’

Rupa’s story also highlights the work still left to do. If her family responsibilities propelled her to start her business, it may also work to hinder her risk-taking ability to grow her business. What can you, and I, and the government do to enhance and enable the risk-taking ability to women entrepreneurs like Rupa?

For women like you and I in Kathmandu, we generally do not experience our twenties like Rupa did. But perhaps what we can learn from her story is that risk-taking is a combination of both contextual catalyst as well as our own mindset. Let us not always seek comfort, stability and conventional success. If I had not returned back home to Nepal, I would not have lived through the excruciating fuel crisis, I would not have struggled to understand the identity and governance challenges of my country, and I would not have met and learnt the pain of women like Rupa. I would not have been able to test my values of gender justice and equality. Let’s be comfortable with discomfort, let’s learn to manage loss so that we can take some risks. Let’s be Bold For Change.

GALLERY

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