Kathmandu, August 15, 2017: Nine inspiring Nepali citizens have been shortlisted for the prestigious N-Peace Award.
Binita Adhikari, Gaura Nepali, Laxmi Tamang, Nirmala Rijal, Nirnaya Shrestha, Prisma Singh Tharu, Punam Khadgi, Shailendra Kumar Tripathi, and Srijana Karki, were shortlisted for the award from a pool of nominees from 7 different countries.
The award was first launched in 2011 to recognize and profile women and men leaders and peace-builders creating change at the grassroots to national levels in Asia. Coordinated by the N-Peace Network, across Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, the Awards shine a light on women and men who demonstrate leadership in peace balding and empowering communities.
Since its inception in 2011, several Nepalis have won the N-Peace Award. In 2016, for her work in advancing the rights of ex-bonded laborers, particularly women and girls, Basanti Chaudhary—a young leader from the Tharu community hailing from a family of former bonded laborers herself—had won the award from Nepal in the Untold Stories category.
Voting began on 8 August, 2017, and will run through 30 September, 2017. To vote your favorite candidate, visit http://n-peace.net/n-peace-awards/vote-now/.
Who are these nine people?
Binita Adhikhari is a psychologist from Nepal, who founded the NGO Antardristi in 2003, to give a voice to the voiceless. The NGO, works to and women and children faced with sexual violence and abuse. In a country where women and children face high levels of violence, especially in areas that were impacted by the conflict, Andarstiti is one of the only few organization working on the issue. Adhikhari is working in the frontline addressing these challenges, she works to raise awareness and prevent physical abuses through education and informative.
Despite the fact that the Constitution of Nepal prohibits discrimination based on caste, lower-castes in Nepal continue to face extreme marginalization and discrimination often live below the poverty line, and have lower life expectancies and literacy rates than the national average.
Born and raised in a Dalit family in the Shalarhi District, Gaura Nepali moved with her family to Kathmandu where she first experienced harsh discrimination because of her caste. This life-changing experience motivated Gaura Nepali to found the Association for Dalit Women’s Advancement of Nepal (ADWAN) and where she continues to lead. Through her work to defend Dalit women’s rights, Gaura Nepali aims at bringing together the multiple efforts in the community to support their cause.
Conflicts further restricts women’s movement and their income earning power creating further barriers for women to access health. According to research conducted by the International Center for Transitional Justice, a large number of women affected by the war in Nepal suffer from gynecological disorders.
Recovery for Nepalese women would necessarily include addressing their reproductive health challenges, including difficult issues such as taboos around menstruation.
Tamang, is a nurse from Laltipur in Nepal, who is an active blogger on gender equality and importance of sexual reproductive health rights and justice for marginalized women in Nepal. She demonstrates leadership through her work as a leading co-founder in a nurse-midwives independent birthing center, and runs a number of initiatives that are much needed in Nepal to provide services for women.
After two decades of conflict in Nepal, the country hopes to embrace a new era of peace and women including from conflict affected areas are defiantly ensuring that they have voice and are at the table when their future is decided. Policy makers in Nepal are paving the way to make this happen. The Local Level Election Act of 2017, made it mandatory for political parties to field female candidates for half of the posts. 20,000 women are standing for the ongoing elections, this is a first for the country.
Nirmala Rijal is 28 years old and lives and works in Kailali, Nepal, a conflict-affected part of the country. She is a single mother to a 12-year-old daughter. At 14, she was forced to marry and struggle with family life, facing domestic violence. She came out of it, emerging as a well-recognized woman leader in Kailali, being the Vice Chair of the Sadbhawana Party, which has now merged with other political parties called Nepal Janata Party. She currently holding the postion of chair the Inter Party Women Alliance at Dhandadi, Kailali.
Nepal has been through a decade of violent conflict that has left 13,000 people dead and 1,300 missing, which ended in 2006. The country is still facing today the aftermath of this conflict as truth is being brought to light.
Nirnaya Shresta is a 39 years old singer, who works to spread peaceful music, while denouncing war through his songs. Looking at the impact war has had on the youth and their educations, Sheresta focuses his art on spreading messages and raising awareness on the importance of peace and education. These theme are recurrent in his song and music tours.
He works with children, focusing on their education spreading his philosophy “Education is the foundation of life”. He acts as a goodwill ambassador of many national and international organizations.
PRISMA SINGH THARU
Peace processes that are inclusive and consultative provides an opportunity to address traditional hierarchical systems that have been discriminatory towards marginalized groups especially women. Nepal has taken proactive steps to abolish its age old bonded labour system. Many women at grassroots level across Nepal worked to lead the campaign to free bonded laborers and are working to ensure women can enjoy the full benefits of these new-found freedoms.
Prisma Singh Tharu, was born and lives in the Bardia District, a remote country side with marginalized ethnic communities, that was at the heart of the conflict in Nepal. According to ICRC more disappearances (men) were recorded in Bardia than any other district, leaving women without answers.
Tharu is prominent women leader in Bardia, working to transform the society through education, freedom, and democratic process. She was a key figure in the campaign to free bonded labourers. In 2003, she established the Tharu Women Upliftment Centre to help women through education and economic transformation. Her work now reaches over 30,000 households.
Punam Khadgi fights for education rights, especially amongst youth. Her work is focused on helping children who drop out of school.
She works with Peace for People, where she focuses on bringing together parents and their children to raise awareness on the importance of education. She works with parents and uses technology to help children and parents connect, this helps to create mutual understanding between parents and child.
SHAILENDRA KUMAR TRIPATHI
Shailendra Kumar Tripathi is a mediator and dialogue convener in his community in the Parsa district in Nepal. Parsa is home to 5 different casts and is a community that has seen a lot of inter-cast conflicts. Shailendra focuses on bringing his community together, offering them trainings to help overcome their differences and emerge as a community. Tripathi’s work has helped to transform mothers, and young girls as agents of change. Tripathi also acts as a counselor for orphans and youth and uses his position to inform and fight against human trafficking through awareness raising campaigns in his community.
Not only do women face high levels of sexual and gender-based violence during conflict, post-conflict, areas impacted by the conflict, also report higher levels of gender-based violence.
Srijana Karki, lives and works in Jhule, Dolakha, Nepal, a rural city which was impacted by the conflict. She has worked for more than a decade fighting for women who face gender based violence and for women’s rights. She provides shelter, advocacy, legal and other protection services to survivors of gender based violence. She also works to ensure women’s rights are upheld in the legal system and they retain equal property rights in cases of divorce, polygamy, etc. Her current NGO work is with the District Alliance Woman Human Rights Defender in Dolakha and through the organization, she holds training for women’s awareness, discussion programs with the stakeholders; highlights and discusses domestic and political violence and women’s issues at the national and international level so they can be discussed and solved.