Females account for over 50 percent of the world’s population, yet a small percentage of females around the world hold leadership positions in different sectors. This is something I have noticed in the places I lived in while growing up—Chennai, India, Princeton, New Jersey, and now, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. What can we do to change the fact that the number of female CEOs, politicians, business owners, and leaders across many fields, is so disproportionate in comparison to the number of males?
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai stated, “we must help girls fight all the obstacles in their lives, and stand up and speak bravely and overcome the fear they have in their hearts.” Rukmini Foundation admires Malala’s words and also believes that we must provide girls with mentorship and leadership skills to be able to stand up for themselves and mobilize other girls. Female leadership can positively impact families, enact change in communities, and is necessary to shape a more equal and equitable future for Nepal.
Leadership begins with learning—having different experiences and diverse interactions. Through our Rukmini Scholars program, we support the education and experiential learning of nearly 45 girls. Along with our Gyan (education), Aayush (health and wellness), and Didi (elder sister and mentor) programs, we are constantly trying to find opportunities and organizations for collaborations and creative ways to develop girls’ leadership. One non-profit we are very happy to partner with is Women LEAD, dedicated to developing socially conscious female leaders who will be change agents and enable other girls and women to lead in Nepal. One of our Rukmini Scholars, Rabina Shresta, who is from our very first class of scholars in 2011, was selected to participate in Women LEAD’s prestigious leadership-training program.
Rabina was awarded a certificate by the Vice Principal of one of our partner school’s, Shikharapur Community School, for scoring in the highest division (division with distinction) on her School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam. The SLC is the final exam that every secondary school student in Nepal must take to complete 10th grade and proceed onto higher education.
The program is a 12-month long training that brings together high school girls from all over Nepal to go through a leadership institute and learn from mentors who have a wealth of experience in leadership nationally and internationally in a variety fields. The girls will then have the opportunity to apply and build their skills in the schools they choose to serve in, in Nepal.
Last year, Rukmini Foundation and Women LEAD organized team-building sessions for our girls and gave them the chance to interact with Women LEADers, female mentors who have worked to better Nepal in different fields—human rights, medicine, politics, and etc. Since then, our girls were inspired to be leaders in their own communities and interested in more Women LEAD programs. Our girls awaited their chance to apply for the competitive Women LEAD fellowship.
Rabina was one of only 30 girls across Nepal who was selected for the LEAD course; she says she is very happy and feels lucky to have been accepted into the program. Ever since Rabina learned about Women LEAD, she had hoped to be involved. She reminisced about the day her Rukmini Foundation mentor told her the application was released and how excited she was to apply. She thanked Rukmini Foundation for showing her the opportunities that exist and encouraging her to pursue her dreams. Rabina plans to apply what she learns from the fellowship to help her society as a team member of Women LEAD and mentor for Rukmini Foundation.
Pictured below is Rabina (left) with her fellow LEADers. They are a group of passionate, ambitious, and action-oriented ladies’ from all over Nepal. As current and future female leaders in Nepal, they will spread what they have learned from the intensive two-week training session with their friends, families, and communities to spark positive change.
The Issue at Hand
Rabina conveyed that her community does not allow girls to express their concerns, which leaves all problems unspoken about and unresolved. Similar to Rabina’s community, in many parts of Nepal female leadership is unheard of. Girls do not have the chance to discuss their problems, let alone act on them. Rabina strongly sees the need for female leaders who can support girls and women and create a comfortable environment for them to express their opinions, concerns, and problems, which would help Nepali society develop. She will support the sisters of her community by helping them speak up about any problems they face and work toward sustainable solutions. The Women LEAD mentors are happy to help Rabina fulfill her goals of being a leader in her community and beyond.
Rukmini Foundation would like to thank Women LEAD for encouraging and enabling Rabina and our other Scholars to pursue their passions. We know that a single organization would not be able to accomplish these efforts—collaboration is crucial and rewarding. We welcome local and international partnerships; we feel this sharing of ideas, different skillsets, and knowledge, is essential to bring about positive change in society.
We are fortunate to have seen Rabina’s personal growth, her aspirations shape, and her commitment to Nepal over the past few years. We will continue to support her to achieve her dreams. As a mentor who knows her society, I feel that there is a need for opportunities like this to help girls understand leadership and embody the many qualities of a great leader (listening, caring, understanding, acting on issues, and inspiring) in everyday life. We are confident that Rabina will make the most of this unique opportunity and share what she learns with her peers and younger girls in the community.
Rabina sharing her experiences as a Rukmini Scholar with community members in the SLC Felicitation Program that was held in early August. Since then, Rabina completed the prestigious Women LEAD training program and now continues to be an agent for positive change in Shikharapur. We look forward to seeing her grow even further as a role model for girls and female leader in Nepal.
At the end of August, Rabina started leadership training with Women LEAD. After a rigorous two-week session and a lot of preparation, Rabina has begun to work with her community school as a LEADer, sharing her insights with her peers. We are proud to say Rabina is and will continue to be a model for Girls’ and Women’s Empowerment for Rukmini Foundation and a change agent in her community.
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- Working in Rukmini Foundation Nepal - November 5, 2015
- Roosters Crow, Hens Deliver: Rukmini Scholars as Leaders - October 5, 2015
- Using Technology to Unlock New Academic Potential - July 8, 2015
- It is in the shelter of each other that we live - June 26, 2015