WOW | women to watch

WOW WOMEN TO WATCH 2020

The WOW Annual List of Women to Watch for 2020 encompasses a wide genre of professional interests. These are the women who are the face of change in the country towards women’s equality and equity. They are change makers, darers and doers who have worked incredibly hard to stand for what they believe in, to achieve against the odds, to know the ‘I M’ in impossible. Read on to learn a little about their journey.

wow photo file © Ram Tandukar, Gokul Shrees

ARYA MANANDHAR
Gender Equality Champion

Arya Manandhar has been awarded as one of 300 Young Leaders from a global applicant pool of over 5600 participants for the award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. Women Deliver is a leading global advocate that champions gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women. Through their Young Leaders Program, Arya looks forward to furthering her expertise on gender equality and for gaining women-centric funds for projects. Arya has diverse experience of leadership, knowledge, networking, and communication in different nations like India, Nepal, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, and Hungary.

Born and raised in Nepal, Arya received a Master’s degree in international relations at the University of Warwick in 2019. She is a Nepali Women’s Global Network member, European Women’s Lobby AGORA Alumni member, IFM.SEI “Feminists of the World Unite 2020” member, and Global Peace Women voluntary guest speaker.

At present, Arya is conducting a workshop on “Eco-feminism In Modern World Order” for Woodcraft Folk, UK, and will be appearing as a guest speaker on “Resist the Climate Change!” podcast series organised by International Falcon Movement based in Brussels, Belgium.

“During my UN Assessment Mission of the 8th Battalion of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in India and after I met with the Secretary of MoHA Nepal, I observed the fundamental need to involve women in effective response and preparedness force now more than ever,” says Arya.

As a Women Deliver Young Leader and a World Literacy Foundation Country Ambassador, Arya is extensively involved in youth-led global movements, policy blocking, and recommendation, securing sufficient funds for women-centric and youth-led organisations. Further, she will be involved in developing an eBook for menstruation health and mental health (especially in Africa) for the Welcome to Womanhood organisation. Her upcoming projects with other young leaders will be in collaboration with key stakeholders and with policy and decision making bodies for overall literacy and women empowerment.

Arya has been actively involved in advocating against advertisements for detergents showcasing women implying women’s stereotypical gender roles, including advertisements promoting ‘double labour’ for working women having arrived at the same time as her husband, concealing double burden by reinforcing multitasking as women’s nature. Here, double labour refers to common socialisation of women holding jobs in shouldering the majority of the housework with an indoctrinated concept that any household work is inherent to be carried out by women, irrespective of her paid working hours.

Arya believes it is equally crucial to highlight eco-feminist project models as Biogas plant in the global platforms that directly reduce carbon emissions, deforestation, lung diseases in women, use of harmful pesticides by the generation of electricity and gas through the plant fed with cow-dung. “I will be developing this project model for the betterment of women’s health and financial independence derived from the time and access to education, and, entrepreneurship opportunity utilising ‘by-products’ of the plant for organic and fish farming, and making home-made standard sanitary items for other women (made by women for women and environment),” she shares. This upcoming project will be focused on rural and semi-urban areas of Nepal.

BHAWANA SHRESTHA
Co-Founder, My Emotions Matter

Bhawana Shrestha started out as a journalist when she was 17, to later switch careers to serving in rural Nepal through the Teach for Nepal fellowship. That was when she realised how emotional wellbeing plays a crucial role in the teaching-learning process. When she joined as a faculty for undergrad students, she learnt that students in the city also struggled with deficiency in emotional intelligence.

A 2013 study by Dr. Travis Bradbery and his team at Talent Smart concluded that only 38 out of 100 Nepalese could explain what sort of emotions they experienced a day prior. Astonished, she conducted her M.Phil research on 200 students to measure the state of emotional intelligence in Nepal in 2017. “The research led me to understand that emotional intelligence skills were lacking in teachers as well. Teachers weren’t empowered to nurture such important skills in their students, the same students would go on to lack such crucial life skills to deal with life’s challenges,” reveals Bhawana. The findings led her to realise the need for an education initiative that focused on helping individuals become self-aware and empathetic to tackle problems we face in interpersonal relationships.

My Emotions Matter was established in 2018 as a solution to the problems Bhawana and her co-founder had experienced throughout their journey.

A Ph.D. scholar of Educational Leadership and Management at Kathmandu University, Bhawana also works as an Assistant Professor at King’s College, Kathmandu. She was a ‘Living Through Lived Experience’ fellow of Teach for All in 2019. She was also one among 1,000 professional learning leaders to help pilot TED its program in 2019 hosted by Head of TED Chris Anderson.
Bhawana was honoured as ‘30 under 30 Literacy Leader 2015’ by the International Literacy Association, USA. She was also selected as a ‘Global Youth Ambassador’ for 2014 and 2015 by ‘A World at School’, the project conceptualised by Sarah Brown, a British campaigner for global health and education.

A redemptive storyteller, Bhawana believes in living a meaningful life and is fond of three Ps; Poetry, Plants, and Paintings.

Having left her hometown at 20 to pursue a career, she has been through the trials and triumphs of life enough to understand how much we all strive to live an authentic life; one in which we can find joy in our relationships and fulfillment at work.“All these years, I have sat through the pains of a lot of confused youths who could do so much better in life if they learnt the skills of emotional intelligence. But every time I talk to a crowd of 30, only two raise their hands when I ask if they know about emotional intelligence and only one usually gets it right,” she claims.

My Emotions Matter introduces emotional intelligence as a learnable life skill so that individuals are more aware, intentional, and purposeful, both in their personal and professional lives. The World Economic Forum also predicts Emotional Intelligence to be the sixth most important skill in the workplace by 2020.

“Our services include designing and facilitating training and courses, consulting, research, as well as coaching services to tackle people problems via Emotional Intelligence,” she informs.
Bhawana recently launched her first book on Emotional Literacy available at Ekta Books. Further, she plans to design and facilitate training and courses to continue helping schools and organisations improve their emotional climate for better interpersonal relationships, especially now that changing times have presented new challenges in the way we understand and relate with one another.

DR SHOVITA RANA
MS Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery (HBPS)

Dr Shovita Rana always guarded her childhood dream of becoming a doctor. “As I grew up, I remember saying I wanted to become a surgeon specifically. It was a serious career goal that I was determined to pursue,” she says. Shovita always had her family’s full support in the matter. Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, to put in simple words, is dealing with diseases and surgery related to the liver, bile duct, gall bladder, and pancreas. “I chose HBPS as it is extremely challenging surgical division and this super specialty subject is available for Masters in very few countries,” she elaborates. As soon as the subject was introduced in Bangladesh, Shovita grabbed the opportunity, applied for the exam and got through, and went on to become the first foreign MS Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery (HBPS) degree holder from Bangladesh.

“Although it was a five-year course (here MS is a three year course), the duration did not deter me from doing it as I knew this was an opportunity to pursue a super specialty subject,” she recalls.

Born in Kathmandu, Shovita spent most of her childhood in India in a boarding school. She returned to Nepal and started her medical journey through Nepal Medical College & Teaching Hospital. For her post-graduation, she enrolled in MS Hepatobiliary Surgery, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The 32 year old Shovita is aware that there is a long and hard journey ahead to establish herself as a Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgeon. Many of the aspects of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery are yet to be explored in Nepal. Shovita aims to deliver the highest level of treatment.

JUNI SINGH
Economist

Juni Singh has recently completed her PhD. in Economics specialising in Development from the Paris School of Economics. Since school days, Juni has wanted to work for poverty alleviation and hence her career choice. “My initial sets of objectives were very broad covering quality education, nutrition and sanitation. The change I envisaged can be brought about via effective policy design and targeting the right set of individuals, hence the choice of economics. This can be achieved with the help of local communities and the government,” she states.

Her research focuses on social development, using experiments and data to inform policymakers. In the course of her degree, Juni initiated a field project in rural Makwanpur. The research aimed at improving cooperation within communities by allowing them to choose their monitoring institution via the village social network. This has implications for community-based projects like the Forest User Groups and Cooperatives. “We wanted to understand how cooperation can be improved in such a setting. To that end, we used a network survey covering around 2000 women with the help of our partner organisation, Rooster Logic. Using the information obtained, we designed a ‘lab in the field experiment’ where we made the women play a series of games and collected data on how they contributed. Peer monitoring improved cooperation in groups with members that did not know each other well,” she explains.

Before starting her PhD, she worked briefly at the World Bank focusing on a poverty alleviation program. “I was involved in the data analysis of a poverty alleviation program in Pakistan. Based on household data, we were trying to understand female voting behaviour. It was an excellent opportunity to see research from a policy perspective,” she adds.

She plans to continue using her knowledge and skill sets to design better policies to improve the welfare of communities. Her ongoing projects include the adoption of electric cook stoves and increasing aspirations of women using role models.

Talking about her electric cook stoves project, she highlights that despite the effort of the government, 75% of rural households still depend on traditional fuels for cooking. “We want to help inform the community about the social and health benefits of the electric cook stove and then study the impact of this information intervention,” she elaborates.

Juni hopes that in the long run, access to such information will help households make informed choices on their primary energy source and increase the uptake of electric cookstoves. “The adoption of cookstoves project is in its preliminary phase and we have started a conversation with Practical Action for the possibility of a partnership,” she adds.

Similarly, her ongoing project aims to open avenues for women in Rural Makwanpur beyond just subsistence agriculture. “More than 90% of women in this area are primarily involved in agriculture. We have spoken to the head of the local government and they have mentioned that despite having training programs, very few women take up a new profession,” she shares. This project aims to use women in the village who are entrepreneurs as role models and to provide information and mentoring to other women in groups. “We hope this will help women to diversify their occupation into small scale enterprise and uplift their living standards,” says Juni.

Juni had the opportunity to interact and be mentored by excellent female economists from all over the world like Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, and Sylvie Lambert. “They have been doing excellent research and participating in policy discourse in developing countries. I take inspiration from them and want research in Nepal to be at par with international standards. In terms of research, I take inspiration from my mother, Mandira Shrestha who is a researcher on water-related disasters,” she highlights.

SONA KHATIK
Radio Journalist & Dalit Activist

Sona Khatik, a journalist from Kapilvastu, proves that nothing is impossible. Born and brought up in the Madhesi Dalit community, she suffered and faced physical and verbal abuse from other castes. As a student, she was insulted, isolated, and humiliated in school by fellow students and teachers which made it extremely challenging for her to continue her studies.

Soon Sona stopped going to school. She started supporting her mother financially to make ends meet. Although she quit school, she felt it was a liberating experience because she no longer had to live in constant fear.

That is when she started tutoring kids in the nearby locality. Eventually, she was able to earn enough money to pay for her tuition when she decided to continue her education again.

But things weren’t all that simple for Sona. Her neighbours torched her hut to discourage her and her siblings from attending school. That didn’t dim her spirits and she continued to excel in her studies. Because she was so dexterous, Equal Access Nepal appointed her as a local radio producer for a program on education.

In 2008, Sona participated in a 12 day training with Radio Kapilvastu and got a two-month internship opportunity with the station. This built her confidence and gave her direction. Her knowledge of Awadhi and Tharu languages has made her one of the most sought after radio journalists. She soon became the station manager. Her work gave her the strength to give voice to the issues of the Dalits and to fight for their rights.

Her passion for journalism made her realise that she could be the ‘voice of the voiceless’ and fight for the rights of her own family and others. Sona supported her sister in going to court to obtain rights over her husband’s property. She also supported those who had been working for their landlords for generations, without recognition of their land rights, to obtain land owner’s certificates.

Sona has played a critical role in advocating against child marriage and has been responsible for stopping 92 child marriages in her community. She counsels families and children of the Dalit community and is a huge advocate for education and land rights.

Currently, Sona is working on suicide cases. She is getting in touch with the family of the victim and supporting the family in terms of justice. She is also bringing to the forefront the issue of death by suicide after rape. “I am working with around ten families who are going through mental trauma after the death of their closed ones. I am driving them towards justice,” Sona informs.

MANIKA JHA
Bureau Chief Province 2, Annapurna Post National Daily

Amongst a handful of Nepali women journalists in leading positions, Manika Jha is a name to reckon with. Born and raised in an educated family, she never came second in studies while at school. However, it was not easy for her to be a girl child and dream big in Mahottari district of the Terai region.

A young rebel, Manika wanted to be a Police Officer but went on to become a journalist inspired and guided by her mother who is a lecturer of psychology. Manika is highly influenced by her mother who is more educated than her husband and has been able to break many stereotypes.

Manika was just 19 and the only female reporter when she started reporting with a national daily in 2008.

Now it has been 12 years that she is reporting and analysing political and social issues of Madhesh for provincial and national media including Kantipur, Annapurna Post, Himal Khabar, Rajdhani, and Setopati.com. She writes on corruption, women’s rights and discrimination, and has been at the end of numerous threats for her bold voice. She was physically attacked on at least three occasions, including a threat to her life in 2009 when her fellow reporter Uma Singh was stabbed to death in Janakpur.

Her persistent nature and fearlessness has been the mainstay of her career. She is currently leading Annapurna Post as the Bureau Chief of Province 2 for the last two years. She is also Vice President of Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Dhanusha and Provincial President of Sancharika Group, Province 2.

A mother of a five year old, Manika holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Tribhuvan University. She also has experience in facilitating research throughout the nation on the issues pertaining to women’s rights, education, violence, menstrual hygiene, etc. She has travelled to almost all districts of Nepal and participated and represented Nepal in several learning programs organised in India, USA, Indonesia among others. She is also the recipient of various prestigious awards and recognitions. Manika has worked on the biographies of hundred women human rights defenders from 46 districts which she considers a key achievement and which was published by WOREC Nepal.

BELMAYA NEPALI
Documentary Filmmaker

Belmaya Nepali is a documentary filmmaker. Her life has not been easy. The youngest of six children born to a poor Dalit family, Belmaya was orphaned at the age of nine. She missed her early schooling and ended up in a girl’s home in Pokhara. Married at the age of 19, she is now a single mother of an eight year old daughter.

She was introduced to the camera at the age of 14 when she got the opportunity to participate in a photo project led by Sue Carpenter, a UK based media personality and documentary filmmaker. That was when she discovered her love for the camera and the possibility of a skilled career.

Belmaya participated in two photo exhibitions at the British Council during the nine month long photography project. Unfortunately, her happiness did not last as her camera was taken away by her family, and she did not get a chance to use it for the next seven years.

Her dream took shape seven years later when Sue came searching for her and arranged a training for Belmaya. Her learning journey was not easy as she had no support from her family, but the hunger for independence kept her moving. The result was her graduation film, Educate Our Daughters, a personal documentary on the importance of education for girls in 2016. It won the Short Film Competition at the UK Asian Film Festival in 2019. It was screened at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) in 2017.

Her second short film, Rowing Against the Flow, on the boatwomen of Pokhara for Thomson Reuters Foundation, was also selected for KIMFF in 2018. She has participated in photo exhibitions at the British Council in Nepal and the Royal College of Art in London. Her work was included in the book, My World, My View.

Belmaya gives credit for her life and success to Sue Carpenter who came as a mentor in her life. Belmaya was among the motivational women to share her life experience at the 2018 and 2019 WOW Festival.

She is also the co-director and subject of Sue Carpenter’s feature documentary, I Am Belmaya which follows her inspiring journey into filmmaking. The film was shown at KIMFF 2019.

Belmaya was about to start work on her third documentary film collaborating with UK’s documentary filmmakers on the story of single mothers when the pandemic hit. She is now working as a daily wage labourer for survival.

MUSKAN KHATUN
Acid Attack Survivor & Activist

At 14 years old Muskan Khatun was on the way to school one early September morning in 2019, completely unaware of the untoward harm that lay on her path; an incident that would scar her for life and change her life’s destination.

Her perpetrator, Shamshad Aalam, 16, called out to her. Catching her completely unawares, he poured acid on her. He committed this heinous crime because Muskan had rejected the love proposal from Majid Miya, his friend. Screaming in shock and pain, Muskan suffered critical burns on her face, chest and hands and was rushed to the local Narayani Hospital in Birgunj from where she was referred to Kirtipur Hospital in Kathmandu. She is now awaiting her fourth surgery.

Daughter of Rasul Ali, resident of Chhapkaiya-3, she was at the time studying in the ninth grade at the Tribhuvan Hanuman Secondary School at Reshamkothi, Birgunj. After the acid attack, the whole family of six had to shift to the capital for Muskan’s treatment where they now face financial difficulties.

Muskan however is strong and determined and believes that if she cries and wavers, the culprit will win. She has appealed for lifelong jail for the perpetrator from the government. In her letter to the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on October 24, 2019, she says, “I would have given death penalty to those who have attacked me with acid. The perpetrators should be given severe punishment so that no acid attack will be carried out on girls in the future. This is not just the pain of an individual; it is the pain of the entire country. This is also the pain of all parents.”

Muskan wants to study to become a doctor. She wants to serve society and work for justice. Currently, Muskan is rigorously advocating against the sale of acid which is freely available and in the wrong hands can wound not just the victim but an entire family.

(Laxmi) Nani Thapa
Advocate, Psychologist, Lecturer, Theatre Artiste & Entrepreneur

Nani Thapa is scripting her own success story in today’s world. Nani found her calling during her various childhood struggles. She recounts, “I lost my father at an early age. Growing up and fighting with the society on various issues initiated my understanding of the importance of legal matters. As a child, whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to become in life, I used to firmly say that I wanted to be the Chief Justice.”

In her late 20s, Nani has already etched her identity. She is a successful advocate, psychologist, theatre actor, scriptwriter, poet, lecturer entrepreneur.

Nani came to Kathmandu from Sindhupalchowk after her SLC and started working as a door-to-door salesgirl during her free hours. More than the salary, Nani used to work to step out of her relative’s house. “I was mistreated at my relative’s place and made to do every household chore,” she recalls. Soon she switched from salesgirl to a data collector. Working on ground level as a data collector, she worked on various societal ills and issues such as prostitution and child abuse. The impact was such that her last theatre hit, Junkiri is based on the life of a call girl. Junkiri, a solo play written and directed by and featuring Nani tells the story of a village girl, how she entered prostitution and the struggles of her life especially when she gives birth to a child.

Known for her solo theatre performances, Nani is currently working on a script named Zindagi Zindabad based on the stories of suicide. “I deal with a number of people as a psychologist and an advocate. I lend an ear to all of them and often many stories have a lasting impact on me. Through this play I will be disclosing a few of their stories,” shares Nani.

The money generated from theatre often goes to the charity. “My mode of financial sustainability is neither advocacy nor theatre but Lotus Unisex Fashion in Anamnagar,” discloses Nani.

During the lockdown, while people were confined to their houses, Nani was fighting for the basic rights of the people. “I have fought more than 50 petitions and 10 PILs during the lockdown,” she states. Most of her petitions were for children in custody and the illegal arrest of people during the lockdown.

SURAKCHYA ADHIKARI
Chief Operating Officer, Thulo.com

Surakchya Adhikari is an e-commerce entrepreneur. As Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Thulo.com, Surakchya leads a campaign that facilitates a dedicated platform for women entrepreneurs to promote and sell their handmade local products.

At 30, Surakchya operates five different start-ups, which collectively provide technology and digital infrastructure to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for operating businesses online. She believes that tough times for entrepreneurs also bring opportunities; it teaches survival and decisiveness and builds confidence to value things that matter.

Right after college in 2012, Surakchya and her friend decided to start a jewelry business which failed and made Surakchya and her team realise the need for an e-platform. “Noting the growth of e-commerce in western countries in 2013, I took over an existing domain of an e-commerce marketplace, NepBay.com by partnering with the founder,” she informs. From starting cash on delivery mechanism for the first time in Nepal to managing hundreds of orders every day, they did it all and yet were not profitable.

In 2016, Surakchya and her two partners ventured into an e-commerce platform for directly trading and providing home delivery of grocery and other home essentials. The startup was named Thulo.Com. By then, she had completed her MBA from Kathmandu University. Currently, Surakchya and her other co-founders operate five different companies under Thulo Group, which collectively provids technology and infrastructure to MSMEs for operating business online.

Surakchya looks after Thulo.Com as its COO and feels proud to be one of the leading e-commerce platforms of Nepal which services 5000+ entrepreneurs and businesses within her ecosystem. With 25k+ registered users and 12k+ daily visitors, Thulo.Com reaches its customers through its website, mobile app, official social media accounts, phone support, web chat support, search engine, events, and traditional media activities. Further she is an active member of the Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs Forum – Kathmandu Chapter.

Further, she is focused on providing easy global market access to Nepali handmade products.

DR. MANU KARKI
Founder, Eco-Sathi Nepal

A dentist and zero-waste lifestyle activist, Manu Karki belongs to Kathmandu. She completed her degree in dentistry from Rajiv Gandhi University, Bangalore and her Master’s in Health Care Management from National Open College, Kathmandu. She is currently practicing at Star Hospital.

A travel enthusiast, Manu on a visit to Taiwan became familiar with zero-waste lifestyle about which she was unknown before. On returning, she was keen to adopt the same lifestyle. However, the process was time-consuming and the products were either expensive or of low quality. That’s when she decided to start Eco-Sathi Nepal in August 2019.

Eco-Sathi Nepal is a venture that sells eco-friendly products in the Nepali market. Along with running a green business and providing eco-friendly products, Manu also educates people about sustainable lifestyle, the on-going climate crisis, and our role in protecting the environment and the planet. Her Instagram page is the main medium for educating people through every day posts on eco-friendly tips, suggestions, alternatives for sustainable life, etc. Poll questions and participatory questions on Instagram help them to understand the market and offer products and information accordingly.

Some of the products include bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo cutlery sets, tote bags, travel kit cutlery set , bamboo hangers, dustpans, chopsticks, copper and steel bottles, shampoo bars, compartment bags for grocery shopping made from cotton, etc that are sourced from local women entrepreneurs in the country and from Vietnam. Manu is considering opening her own store soon in the capital.

BANDANA TULACHAN
Illustrator, Author & Designer

Bandana Tulachan, an illustrator and author, likes to wander and explore, sometimes in streets and alleyways, at other times on mountain trails, but mostly in her imagination. And the result of losing herself manifests in the form of beautiful illustrations.

She works as a freelancer on illustration and design projects mainly on children’s content, illustrated books, and sequential narratives and comics.

Bandana completed her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Kathmandu University Center for Art and Design majoring in Graphic Communication. She has illustrated more than ten children’s books.

She has been working as a freelance illustrator since 2012 collaborating with various institutions such as Room to Read Nepal, UNICEF, British Council Nepal, Bookbus Nepal, Srijanalaya, etc.

The talented artist was selected for exhibitions at the Big Illustrator Gallery in Asian Festival for Children’s Content, Singapore in 2017 and 2020, and for Reading Room in Kochi Biennale, India in 2014. Likewise, she was also selected for residency programs: Tharu Children Book by Srijanalaya and Asia Foundation (2019), Photo Kathmandu Mixed Media Residency (2018), and Children Book Residency by Srijanalaya (2015).

In 2018, Bandana participated in Creating Heroines Workshop by the British Council facilitated by Dr. Nicola Streeten, an academic, illustrator, cultural anthropologist, historian of British cartoonists along with the other artists from Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. That togetherness gave birth to Virangana Comics, a platform for expression and collaboration for comic artists in Nepal. Bandana co-founded the platform in 2019 collaborating with two fellow artists Shraddha Shrestha and Promina Shrestha. They came out with the first issue of Virangana Comics Anthology in 2019 through an artist grant by the British Council featuring eight women artists on the theme of self-love, later published by Fine Print Books.

She is currently working with the Asia Foundation as Art Director for two children’s books based on Nepali folk tales and also collaborating with UNICEF to develop illustrations related to Covid 19.

The 31 year old believes that art and books can pave the way to a more inclusive and empathetic society.

SHIVANGI BANSAL
Founder & Curator, Danfe Arts

Shivangi Bansal is an aspiring creative professional with a strong drive for creating social change. She is an arts enthusiast based in Kathmandu. Having received her higher education in UK and Singapore, she returned to Nepal in January 2019 and started Danfe Arts in February the same year. Danfe Arts is a touring art gallery that aims to take Nepali art around the world fostering cross-cultural exchange and creating a global platform for the local community.

During the pandemic, Shivangi is working towards creating a digital space for Danfe Arts through social media and website. Recently, celebrated artists like Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha and Kiran Manandhar talked about their work and the cultural significance of art through the Instagram page of Danfe Arts.

Shivangi is also helping local artists through #danfeartsupports. It is a lockdown initiative launched on May 25 where the gallery posts work of artists on Instagram priced at Rs. 5000 and below with all proceeds going directly to the artist. The gallery raised Rs. 70,000 in eight weeks promoting the works of 48 artists through this initiative.

The exhibitions curated by her are A Portrait Story held at the Taragaon Museum which brought together 47 artists; and the pre-launch of Danfe Arts titled A Rendition of Kathmandu Valley, a visual arts display by ten local artists.

She was also participant of the American Arts Incubator, an international program that fostered the integration of arts and technology to address social issues locally.

NISHA TAUJALE KC
Entrepreneur

Nisha Taujale KC is a farmer turned entrepreneur. Nisha is the co-founder of Kathmandu Organics known for quality products in the valley. Nisha did farming for three years and was immensely discouraged with the offered price for her produce. “We were compelled to sell the products below the cost price,” says Nisha. This led her to establish Kathmandu Organics in 2017.

In the initial phase, Nisha and her husband wanted to cater to consumers only online. “We wanted our brand to be a household name but realised that a physical store is much needed as customers look forward to the feel of the product before buying it,” she informs.

Kathmandu Organics products are categorised in three different segments: Certified, Local and Homemade. Starting from a small shutter in Basundhara, today her store is located in Naxal and Dhumbarahi offering more than 300 products. “We started with sourcing local products and gradually introduced our own products like sutkeri masala, achaars, etc,” Nisha shares.

Stating that 80% of the products in the market are adulterated, Nisha makes sure that the products she sells are not compromised and are also affordable. “Before introducing any product in the market, we first consume and test it and only when it meets our approval, we place it in the store with maximum 15% profit margin,” she says. Nisha discloses that they will soon introduce dry herbs and clay products in the market.

With more than a thousand plus regular customers, Nisha claims that family oriented and health conscious people are her target audience.

CHERISA BAJRACHARYA
Singer & Song Writer

Cherisa Bajracharya is known for her Covid song which gained popularity in recent days. The song was created to spread awareness about Covid 19 and stay positive in the hard times in collaboration with UNICEF. Moreover, the song is the English version of her father, Deepak Bajracharya’s song which was in collaboration with UNICEF but in Nepali version. The music video was shot in a short time due to the lockdown and it was kept very minimal due to limited resources. Nevertheless, Cherisa has been getting lots of personal messages and the response has been very good. The video has crossed 1.8 million views on Facebook. “This is my first official solo music video,” says Cherisa.

Coming from a family of musicians, she says her father has been her biggest inspiration. He has always supported and encouraged her towards music. Even though she learnt a lot about music from her father, she joined a music program for 3-4 months after grade 10 at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory.

During the lockdown Cherisa has been working with her father who has been conducting live sessions since the first day of the lockdown with his band members. The videos now have 3-4 lakhs views.

Cherisa is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree from Islington College. She is also at the beginning of her career as a singer and performer. She is currently working on a TV talk show with her father which will air soon on a leading television channel.