WOW | People

Young Women of Substance

A recent business graduate, Samanata Thapa Magar is always open to new ideas, challenges and opportunities. As an art enthusiast, tea lover, occasional cook she believes in constant learning. Her project Redefine is one the three winning projects of EmpowHer Project 2016.

Samanata Thapa Magar
22, Co-founder and Creative Team Leader, Haushala Creatives

Tell us about your Empowher project redefine?
Project Redefine seeks to redefine and uplift the social status of domestic helpers in our society by professionalising this sector of labour and providing quality service to society. The project gives 15 days training to domestic helpers about time and task management, time and cost efficient cleaning techniques, communication, ethics and etiquettes and homemade cleaning solutions.

How did you get interested to uplift the status of women domestic workers in Kathmandu?
One afternoon, I came to hear that my helper didi had been lying about her occupation to her neighbours. She was ashamed about her work and worried that people will not respect her if she told them that she works as a domestic help. The next thing that bothered me was how she was afraid that one day her children won’t respect her because society does not respect a domestic helper. Although these women work day and night to look after their family needs, society fails to respect a domestic worker’s effort. It is considered as a dead end to end up as a domestic helper. This particular incident was the point where I first tried to put myself in the shoes of a domestic helper. Instead of being a service provider, people in this sector of labour have become modern day invisible slaves that society fails to acknowledge, also leaving domestic helpers more vulnerable to various forms of exploitation. And this incident and my informal conversation with many domestic helpers over the course of time motivated me to try and uplift their socio-economic status to ensure a better living standard and protection for them in society.

What is the best thing about what you do?
I think the best thing about what I do is that I learn a new thing every day. In the course of trying to uplift their social status, I get to live the life of domestic helpers I come across by listening to their personal stories and understand them. My trainees and I come from very different walks of life, but in the course of trying to change and challenge the social stigma joint with domestic helpers, every morning I get the opportunity to teach them and learn from them.

samanata-thapa-magarHow important is financial independence?
Financial independence is important, but I strongly believe that the ability to be financially independent is more important. It gives one a sense of empowerment to listen to our inner voice and go for the things we believe in.

What are the three things that are most important for a person to succeed?
Introspection, determination and compassion

What is your work mantra?
My dreams won’t work unless I do.

Your inspiration
My greatest inspiration are my parents and the freedom that comes with them. They have always given me the space to explore what I am passionate about, a life without set rules and restrictions, they have always been understanding and moved on from their era and time which I think has always inspired me and my sister to reach for the stars, be free, adaptive and yet stay connected to our roots.

Your challenge
It has been an interesting challenge finding domestic helpers and making them believe that there is better scope in what they are doing.

Besides work
Besides work, I usually like exploring local places for a cup of tea or coffee and endless conversations. During my free time I usually look up DIY (Do It Yourself) materials online and experiment at home. Recently, I have been taking out time to take videos of my parents, talking about their life so far and documenting them for a personal family project.