Home Youth GITC 2018: Empowerment Panel Discussion

GITC 2018: Empowerment Panel Discussion


Kathmandu, October 22, 2018: “Into The Change-Making”
Empowering teenagers means empowering own country and world as a whole. Empowering teenagers with a strong sense of self-worth and confidence is what GITC aims at. We want to uplift and value the teens, respect their views and decisions and influence them to be purposeful and passionate.

In the panel discussion, Moderator was Mr. Anil Chitrakar who is President of Siddharth Inc. The speakers were Rodain Malcolm Richardson from Jamaica and is 19 years and is Founder Jamaica Youth Motivators, Ashna Poudel from Nepal is 17 years  and is Social Worker Glocal’s 20 under 20, batch of 2017.

Lirisha Tuladhar, Nepal, 18 years Student, Public Health

Moderator: How much time do we have sir? Ok, so my question for, to you Lirisa, first of all just welcome everybody. So, you might we wondering why are we all here, a grey-haired person in a teenage conference. So, what i do is I like to try engage this free young people who are ready what they have to offer us. So, I want you all, I don’t know whether you have a piece of paper and a pen in front of you, to start with some notes you want to share with your friends, with your colleges as people see to this session. So, without wasting any time, let’s proceed. So, one of the things we always worried in Nepal is the way we come to generalized the problems. Now let me tell you what that means. We take a case study, we study a particular problem and we tend to generalised it. So how many of you feel that Nepal is full of racist and every women live in a hot wage difference? Do you think this happens to all across the country? (audience raising hands) so let me ask you lirisa, in case of your own life, from the issues which u mentioned, what is it to be a girl like?

Lirisa: Well thank you for the question Sir, personally speaking, ugh my own family background has lack of women empowerment because I live in a typical newar family, in a joint family and my father side and mother side is two different part. Like my father side is a bit conservative type, a bit traditional type. They have so many restrictions like when I started my menstruation, even I followed the restriction strictly. My grandmother used to scold me, my grandfather used to set the restrictions and all. But my mother side they are free and educated, they don’t follow the restriction that strictly. And sir what was the question I guess.

Moderator: So, from what you are saying, you grew up in a good family, but u followed the restriction or the values?

Lirisa: Yah, both sides are equalized. Even I am confused because father side had too many restrictions but other side had supported me to the opportunities to go for the involvement. So, learning from both the environment, I have started with this involvement.

Moderator: Good, very good, so you have the family support and a good education. Those are the two important things you need to succeed. So, in terms of empowerment, you have been part of media, events, can you tell us what empowerment is?

Ashna: For me empowerment means to be able to stand for yourself and for others. Ugh let me give you an example, you are walking down the street, you see a beggar being troubled by a strange man. You know that’s not good, so you go and talk with the man. You make him realize that this is not how other must be treated.  For me being empowered doesn’t mean creating big impact in the society because all those little things that we do in our daily little life create some impact in our life or in others life. Whether it’s a little boy, an old man or old woman, if they do anything for themselves and the society, that’s called empowerment.

Moderator: Good, you are telling two things here: decision for yourself and for other. Now let me ask you another question, can you give us a recent example where you were frustrated by your decision?

Ashna: So i will give you my own example. It happened a month ago. I was on my first day of periods. I was very hungry, very hungry. It was Saturday. My mother wasn’t in the house. My sister was preparing for SLC so I didn’t want to disturb her. I went to kitchen when my father suddenly came and started to be angry. I tried to give the logical points saying it’s normal in another countries societies but what happens is that whenever we raise our voice against our parents, they say ‘Mukhmukhai lagxas’. My father said this, ’Go and leave my house if you want to enter my kitchen on your periods’. At that time, I had Rs. 600 in my bag. So, I literally left my house and went city centre to watch a movie. I didn’t pick his phone for the entire day. My mother also scolds me when I go to kitchen on my periods but not as much as my dad does. She called me and said sorry but still today I am scared to go to kitchen when my father is around. But when I see mother and sister, I go freely.

Moderator: So, this is for the audience, when panelist shares their personal stories, It’s empowering. It’s not about others, it’s not about the general people in the society. It’s very easy to judge in the society but very hard in real life when it happens to ourselves. So, you seemed to be a political guy, empowering to the politics. So, tells us about what you do in the Jamaican society.

Rodain: Namaste. First, I want to express my gratitude for inviting me in this conference. I hope you learn many things from this conference but before I want everyone to stand up please.

(everyone stands)

Rodain: And I like you to repeat after me, ‘I can if I will”, (audience repeats) one more time ‘I can if I believe’ (audience repeats) ‘and I will’ (audience repeats) thank you. Now very important thing when we are talking about empowerment, we have to set our mind willing to take information. If we don’t lower ourselves and idol the values , nothing could have been achieved. I will be giving few presentations and tips that shall be guiding you all to take any decision. Thomas Alva Edison failed 1000 times in his life but still didn’t give up. You see a glass half empty, I see the glass half full, filled of opportunities. So, enjoy, listen, be open to ask more questions because this is the session where u can learn many things. Please be seated (clapping)

Moderator: Ok, that’s really good to listen about positivity. So, let me ask you from your own life experiences, how have this helped you and the Jamaican life’s?

Rodain: Ok, I use the recent most scenario. I mailed 100 people to finance me so that i could attend this conference. Every single person said no! Now you all might be wondering how I came here? It’s was my one more tries that I mailed another person who helped me to attend this conference. That one person said yes after the 100 persons. Your compulsion for not giving up, for not stopping leads to success. Don’t deter from your ultimate goals.

Moderator: Ver good. This is very important to understand because we want success at a very cheap price.  So, this is for each of you, each of you might have struggled with your idea. You all are in this panel because of your work but only few parts lot world knows your struggle. We always say china, India and Nepal. We can’t play football with 11 members in china, 11 in Nepal and 11 in India until and unless we respect the culture. So, Ashna, Lirisa and Rodain, how do you make your friend, family and society to rally under your Idea? Lirisa, would you like to start?

Lirisa: It’s again a very overwhelming question. For me it’s really hard because I am just a beginner in this empowering panel. I have just started to be extrovert. Starting as a public health student, I started to go outside. So, talking about forming a team it is different in terms of friends, it’s different how we perceive in the family. From my family also, I have many restrictions. I have a brother, so considering the importance of a son again, I am not so considered neither my voice is so appreciated. I know I am doing the right thing. so, show the people with your work that you are right. Prove them with the evidences. Now my family also understand how despite going against them, there are the people appreciating her. So, they also know I am doing the right thing. While working with friends, it’s easier to work because our ideas seldom matches. But again, sometimes while working together, our idea clashes and in between we have like let’s not talk to each other kind of thing but still we can overcome from it because friends are friends after all.  They will understand us.

Moderator: So very good. You have to be evidence based. Same question to you Ashna, you have a good idea, now how will you make people engaged?

Ashna: Well my case is really different from Lirisha. I didn’t have much family support neither I have many friends. One year ago, I went to my mother and asked can you lend me some money, I want to start my own startup. Before she didn’t believe me but now as I have started getting medals and certificates, she herself says, do you want some money? I want to help you. Talking about my friends, they wanted to chill out. Ya, I also wanted to party, I am also a teenager but they want it every day. I couldn’t give time and slowly I started to lose my friends. If you want to do something in life, you have to search similar kind of personality. And I happen to meet with this brother who is 3-4 years older than me. Uhh it was Ashish dai Cajol dd, they were organizing Glocal MUN, and I started talking with them. I started networking. And for community, I believe that u just need to startup. Later on, they themselves will come and talk to us.

Moderator: Very good Ashna! What you said was that it takes time and patience because people don’t trust immediately. The second thing what you told is once the society starts to recognize you and your jobs, then people starts to believe you. The third thing you also said that when you take leadership, don’t expect whole crowd behind you. You will get few friends, maybe 2 or 3. It’s very important to form a group of like-minded people who shares your values, who shares your passion. So Rodain, I want to go back to you, when do you realized that you were walking and running?

Rodain:  Ok, thank you so much for that. When I started I was alone, but today i have 300 people in my organization within 3 years of time. It doesn’t come in overnight or neither people will say, oh I really appreciate your organization and want to be a member. It comes from every individual who dream to change. So I have 3 key points that every individual needs to progress. One most important one is confidence. You can’t change the society without the believe in oneself. No One will listen if you don’t believe in your idea because why do we have to listen? Why do we support? Another key point is tolerance. It’s really important to have a like-minded member in your team but it is also true that you should not be affected by race and religion. Or else you will be limiting yourself. We as a nation, as a global hemisphere have been limiting ourselves because of race, religion and politics. I am enjoying myself, I am networking, I am not limiting myself, I am enjoying!

Moderator: So that’s really good. You mentioned three important factors: self believe, tolerance and corporation. That’s really essential. Now Lirisa, as you mentioned, there is a piece of legislation that bans chaupadi, now laws can be one part, policies can be another but what I really want to draw attention of the audience is how many of you recently watched the world cup? This is really amazing that Croatia, despite of being a small country went to the finals but u also noticed that Holland and Italy with many large football teams actually didn’t make it to final rounds whereas Japan and Korea did. The reason is the young country, small country was given the chance. When you talk about policies, legislation, it’s all about you to succeed. Ok, can u tell me something about your happiness that something is happening or frustration that why nothing is happening in terms of policies, legislations that helps you to empower.

Lirisa: Uhh ok, talking about the politics, I am really not interested in politics and honestly speaking I don’t understand the politics of Nepal especially. The policies are so nice to read but the implementation is so weak in Nepal. Actually, the laws written here are even better than the US as I have heard do but the implementation is very poor. Yes, I have a frustration because we youth are not appreciated. We are not considered to raise our voice in the politics. Even if we raise, our voice is just in the air among the old generation. If you see prime minister and all, they are so old, now a day’s politics should run as per the need and aspiration of young people. Hence this politics also creates hindrance to the environment level for teens specially because when we try to bring change in the society, questioning is there. Even if we go to the school, older generation ask to us, do you have any ID proof that you are going to make this program successful? Do you have any written consent? They don’t trust us. So, we teenagers should also pressure the government so that we can also participate.

Moderator: So, you mentioned 2 things here: one is laws implementation is very weak and another is that young people also away from politics which is a bigger challenge. Now Ashna, let me ask you something very simple. All of the political changes in Nepal, tell me some challenges and opportunities that you have faced.

Ashna: Nowadays what I see is there are more opportunities for women than men. My male friends come to me and say can u search a job for me. So, I think government has been able to be better and better in the field of empowerment. Before there used to be male in every sector, but now I see more females in every sector whether it’s IT or science, women are getting higher and higher but men are lacking behind. I think men are getting forgotten nowadays. (clappings) People say feminisms is about giving opportunities to female but actual feminism means giving equal rights to both males and females. So, people are forgetting about males (clappings) so that is more challenging nowadays.

Moderator: It’s really great that you are opening up for women but at the same time how society is marginalizing the other half. Rodain, so now the question for you is, do we need to do a lot of things in order to empower the youths nowadays?

Rodain: yes, the policies. What I want to highlight is that there are similarities. The males are marginalized. There are more women attending the high schools. There are more women completing the degree. Likewise, I remember when I was about to give my entrance exam to the school, I was under my bed shivering because there were shootings all the places by the men. So, this problem still exists. And talking about the sexual health awareness, there are lot to be taught in schools. They need to be taught in descriptive manner because if you only teach to use condom, they are not going to use because they don’t know how to. Talking about the politics and legislations, many needs to be improvised. That’s the reason I take interest upon politics because I believe there are tons of work to be done and information to come. (clappings)

Moderator: This is pretty good example of empowerment. So, what I will do is, let’s see the audience. How many of you actually have the questions for panelist? I want to ask the organizers, how much more time do we have?

Asish Sir: 30 minutes

Moderator: 30 minutes more, ok who has the mike on the floor?

Question 1: So, my question is for the panelist, let’s see a hypothetical situation where you have money and all the resourced and power required, what is that one movement of change that you would start off towards this issue?

Question 2: My question is very simple to all the panelists. What is the best piece of advice that each of you want to give? The second question is for Rodain, my question to him is that when they are doing the motivational seminar, what is the scenario of supporters who really go there? Thank you?

Question 3: Ok, this is my question well to the public speakers. When you don’t have a good knowledge of politics especially in the developing country like Nepal when government impacts a lot, for example if you want to develop the society but there are some rules in the country that limit it, how do you cope up with it?

Moderator: So i think this are easy questions, so Lirisa…

Lirisa: Well I didn’t understand the second question.

Moderator: So, the first question is, you have an ultimate resource, what would you like to change? Second question is the piece of advice you would like to give. Third question is can you really ignore politics?

Lirisa: So, starting from the very first question, if I have the power and resources, first off, all, even though we want to change every sector, we have to try to bring our focus to only one particular issue. So, I would like to tackle one particular issue which need more attention. With my financial resources, I will travel around the world to solve that issue. For second question, a piece of advice that I want to give is don’t think about what if others will judge you. Do what you think is right. If you think what you are doing is right, there might be several things that might hold you back. Don’t care about what other says. Just listen your inner voice. And for the third question, may I have your support like on what basis am I supposed to speak?

Moderator: Yes definitely. So, in the country like Nepal where the influence of politics is everywhere, can you really ignore the politics?

Lirisa: Yes, politics is quite important in one aspect but as I said before, we are not given that much chance in the political level. So, it’s all upon us that whatever we can do in local level, we have to do it ourselves. Talking about me, I like to go with friend’s decision because I find we share the common ideas. If we start educating our peers, aware the peers and collaborating together then politics will also understand that hey, they are doing something good, we will be accumulating youth power so that the politics will also focus. Even the politics demands evidences. So, we should try to show them evidences.

Moderator: OK…now Ashna.

Ashna: So, for the first question, let’s take an example. I want to do something which I know how to do it. There are numbers of resources but you lack mentors. There are plenty of mentors to guide you, you can even ask Anil sir to help you. You can ask Bisham dai to ask about the mentorship. You can ask to anyone to provide you the mentorship and they will really help you to do that thing. So, I want to answer the third question. Here in Nepal, teenagers are having misconceptions about politics that politics is bad. Politics is not that much bad. Politics is really important. Yes, it affects to some way but if you really want to do something than I don’t think politics will stop you. And the second one, piece of advice, I want to say that if you want the change, be the change.

Moderator: Very good! (clappings) ok now Rodain.

Rodain: Ok, thank you for the question. Often money is the limiting factor for many ideas, so if I have the money, I would do something specifically. I believe, quality is better than quantity. So, if you focus on one thing you can be more effective. I think ignorance is the cause of many issues in the society because first of all, we must be educated and knowledgeable of the information provided. My answer for the second question, my best advice would be, I will tell each and every person who desires success to take a piece of paper to write your goal. Not any 100 goals, but your specific one goal, that one thing you want to achieve in your life, write down in a piece of a paper. Then below that, write what is it gonna take me to reach to this goal. Start working and never ever stop! Even if you finished that goal, set another one. And answering the third question, sir, I personally believe, this may be coming from a biassed perspective that politics is really necessary because its impulses the whole legislation process, rules and regulations to govern the society. The major decision that we make that affects each other is made in the political table within the cabinet. So I don’t believe that as a nation, we should not perceive politics. What I think we must do is if we don’t have interest in politics, we should cultivate the habit of understanding it because ignorance is what causes problems. If you understand how the decision is made without thinking than you can convince them to think otherwise. That’s why it’s really important that if you don’t actively participate or understand what they are trying to do, you won’t be able to convince them. As far as the third question related to me, in relation to certain factor, the schools are welcoming because Jamaican students are mostly focused on posting in social media. We all are brands, and the photos that we share in the facebook, instagram are the activities that we must do to justify our brands. So, the schools appreciate the students who come and teach how to wear condom. They appreciate the people to come and teach the young girls about their menstruation hygiene. So, what I do is that I have my general sessions where we pick up the issues that is rarely spoken. And because I’m so motivated, each topic is touched such as menstruation and suicide.

Moderator: Very good (Clappings). So, I want to ask, how many people in the audience gas the written goals? How many of you feel that you quite need a goal, have written them down and are comfortable with? Very good, now how many of you have found that one thing you need to do to get that goal? And so how many of you feel that this is the process, and once you have completed it, you will get up and write the another one? So, it’s really wonderful process to write down the goal. Now obviously, Lirisa, Ashna and Rodain, you all started at very young age. Some changes are from your own personal experiences and hence are very valuable. I want to ask the audience for the second round of question. Is there any?

Question 1: What do you think the world really lacks in terms of women empowering and what we youths can do in this topic?

Question 2: What do you see 10 years down the line? Do you think we will need to empower them or the people will be capable enough to empower themselves?

Question 3: My question to all the panelists is that you all are working on your respecting field. So, when you are working, there are many challenges. So, are you all always motivated?

Question 4: How do you keep yourself motivated and empowered when you are depressed from the society and even family members?

Moderator: So Ashna, let’s start with you this time.

Ashna: Ok, let me start by answering the 3rd question.  I am a very nature loving person. Whenever I feel demotivated and depressed, I go to open spaces and connect to the nature. Many things come to my mind at that time, like: where do you see yourself in 10 years. So, I get so many things in my head and those things motivates me. Yes, there are times when I get demotivated, especially when relatives and society come to my parents and say that I am not doing good things. One recent example is the time when I met a guy for my business purpose. One of the relative saws that and complained my mom saying I was with a boy. I convinced her though it took time. Everybody haves ups and downs in their life and we must go on to achieve the success.

Moderator: Very good, Lirisa?

Lirisa: To the first question, conceptualizing Nepal and other countries, as well as from my own experiences, it is the stigma that people themselves holds that keeps the gap between empower level to have more empowered. I think people must change their thought to make themselves inferior, that they cannot do anything. They must think that even they have a small idea, they must give it a try. who knows it might bring a big change. If the people are able to change this stigma, then I think the empowerment level will go to a higher level. Honestly speaking, this is my very first time in the stage. I am really nervous. I am trying to take out my stage phobia but I still have a stigma that what I have to say and what not to say. But also, I am with the thought that it’s ok, I don’t care because I have already spoken and what spoken is already spoken. I know I am right and I don’t care how people with judge me now. For the second question, I don’t have any plans for 10 years because I believe in changing, there will be progress, no matter slow or fast. In case of health, we have already eliminated polio, we are trying to prevail malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS. The progress is slow but as Rodain said, what do you see, the half empty glass or the half full glass. About the third question, yes I am an introvert person. Sometimes I always think what am I doing? Is it really bringing any changes? No one is appreciating my efforts. Luckily, I have a very supportive mother and grandparents.

Moderator: Ok, now Rodain?

Rodain: I also want to share my personal story because I feel it’s important to share. Now the suit you see I am wearing right now, there is a story behind. Every small aspect of our life has a story behind. It is only the suit I wear whenever I go, it’s simply because I cannot afford the another one. But that doesn’t stop me. That one thing that keeps me is the understanding that what I am capable of and where I want to go. People who say me you will reach there keeps me pushing and working. While leaving from school, sometimes I don’t have money so I walked to the home. When I was starting my organization, I was the only person going to school because I was the only one willing to walk to the school. One thing I want to share is that there was a student from grade 9. One day he came to me and started crying. He asked me that all the things I mentioned was true? I said yes. He said can I tell you something , I said you can. This man told me that his father shot his mother and shot himself and asked me so that I could be his father. I was touched sincerely. This young man is one of the main speakers within my organization. When I help and care someone, I don’t have much, but the little that I have motivates me to give. You will decide what you will do with the knowledge that is bestowed upon you in today’s conference. You are the one to decide what you will be in 10 years. (clappings)

Moderator: It’s really interesting how each one of you use your own personal story to help and empower other youths in this conference.