Washington DC, April 18, 2018: The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), an international NGO dedicated to improving the lives and livelihoods of the working poor, has announced that Nepali Social Entrepreneur Rita Thapa will be the recipient of the 8th Annual Fairness Award presented in Washington, DC in May.
Ms. Thapa is the founder of Tewa, a Nepali organization that invests in women to organize, advocate collectively, and upend discriminatory policies and practices in Nepal and across the globe. Tewa has committed to expanding local sources of revenue for grant-making and investment to break a cycle of dependency on foreign assistance and to lead a movement for locally-owned and financed development initiatives. Rita’s selection as the 2018 Fairness Award Honoree is in recognition of a career committed to creating more equitable, sustainable opportunities for poor and vulnerable communities, and particularly women. She has put the power for change in the hands of the people and has amplified the voice of women to, in her words, “organize collectively, challenge systems, strengthen their leadership, and overcome injustice.”
“The Fairness Award celebrates leaders like Rita Thapa who have given a voice to the invisible and enabled opportunity and justice for vulnerable and impoverished people everywhere. Rita exemplifies the best of what we can be when we put our common humanity first, and we are honored to recognize her with the 2018 Fairness Award,” said Karen Tramontano, Founder of the Global Fairness Initiative.
The Fairness Award is presented annually at a ceremony in Washington, DC and is hosted by the Global Fairness Initiative. Honorees are nominated by a selection committee designated by the GFI Board of Directors and the Award is presented to the Honorees by distinguished luminaries who have included Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, President José María Figueres and others. Past honorees include former heads of State, Labor and Human Rights leaders, Social Entrepreneurs, CEOs and grassroots leaders from over a dozen countries and 5 continents. The 2018 Fairness Award ceremony will be held on May 17 at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Learn more at http://www.fairnessaward.org.
Rita Thapa is the founder of Tewa, a Nepali organization that provides funding and capacity development to support women to organize, raise their voices collectively, and transform discriminatory policies, systems, norms and practices.
Rita was born into a very traditional and conservative family in Kathmandu. In keeping with tradition, Rita was forced to marry at the age of eighteen and were it not for her tenacity and commitment to finishing her Bachelor’s degree, would have had to forsake her higher education altogether. Her education and her desire to work for the improvement of society created such conflict that she eventually broke ties with her family in order to be able to carry on her work. Rita then proceeded to get involved with several women’s groups and founded her own organizations. She launched one of the first department stores in Nepal and founded a women’s group that evolved into a network of development organizations.
Over the years Rita has experienced both sides of the donor world in having sought funds for organizations with which she has been involved and in having worked for organizations such as Oxfam, UNIFEM, UNDP, GTZ and the Canadian Cooperation Office. In 1995, Rita spoke on a panel at the NGO Forum in Beijing entitled “Funding our Future,” and it was during the preparation for that engagement that she began to understand the development challenges facing her country. She declined a scholarship to study in New Zealand and left her job at UNIFEM in order to devote herself full time, and on a voluntary basis, to developing Tewa and its goals on a much broader scale.
Rita is known and appreciated around the world as an inspiring teacher and a resource on feminist leadership, development, and peace & conflict. She has extensive experience in building links among community, non-governmental, governmental, and academic institutions. She served as a past Board Member and Chair of the Global Fund for Women and the Urgent Action Fund, as well as on the Board of the Global Fund for Community Foundation (GFCF) and the South Asian Women’s Fund (SWAF). In 2005, she was included in the 1000 Women for Peace nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Photo source: WWF Nepal