Report by: Puja Pudasaini
Stand Up for Girls is a movement where people all around the globe advocate for a girl’s right to education, opportunities and a spot on the world stage. HerStory Stand Up for Girls provides girls from all corners of the world a platform to tell her story, to participate in her community and be a force of positive change through education and literacy.
Every year on the month of October, we at LitClub Nepal and Rukmini Foundation take the opportunity to celebrate the strength of girls & womanhood and raise awareness about the unique challenges girls face globally. On this day, Litclub members take action and Stand Up for Girls, honoring the stories of girls and inspiring individuals, school and communities. This year Stand Up for Girls program was celebrated in two different communities of Pharping namely Shokhel and Chhaimale on the date October 27th and October 30th respectively.
On the first day October 27th, girls from 5 different Litclub namely Arunodaya, Setidevi-Talku, Setidevi-Shokhel, Shikharapur, and Kalidevi took part in stand up for girls. All over 78 participants came together to celebrate this program. We started with the “hello song” and followed with community building activity called “Movement name game” with the girls. In the “movement name game” all participant introduce themselves with their favorite moves. On 30th October, the same program to celebrate Stand Up for Girls was organized in Chhaimela, Devichour with 36 participants from ShreeKrishana LitClub and Panchakanya LitClub, along with 3 mentors and Rukmini staffs.
Usha Adhikari explained the objective of the program to all participants who were divided into different groups, each lead by different mentors. Group activities were run according to the curriculum provided by the HerStory team. All participants were asked to take a moment for self-reflection and think about two things- personal strengths that could help their community be stronger, and about the work of some community members who made their community stronger through their work.
Each participant created a puzzle piece that was decorated with any words and images that represent their personal strength that they felt helps make their community stronger. Mentors guided them in their small group, going in turns to share about the words and images they choose. After creating the puzzle pieces, they created windows and on the window panes wrote an affirmation or messages of appreciation for different community members that make their community stronger through action. The smaller group then got together as a big group and shared with each other their words of strength and affirmation.
Bahini Salina Sunar said “My strength is friendship. I can easily make friends wherever I go. And I am inspired by my aunty who is a social worker helping my mother and other women of our community to raise their voice and provide different life opportunities. I would like to thank my aunty for the great job she is doing in our community to empower moms and all the girls of our community.”
Similarly, Bahini Shreeya Gotame shared that her superhero is her sister. “She helps in my homework and teaches me English. She is kind to all members of the community and teaches us to be kind with all. So she inspired me to be kind with all.”
This simple exercise provided the girls with an opportunity of self-reflection and made them consider all their strengths and possibilities as they grow in their community. Being able to consider and understand their strength, the girls grow in self-confidence and self-awareness, important in their journey through education and career. Further, the second part of the exercise encouraged the girls to think about the women in their lives and in their community, and the strength and positivity they bought in their lives.
While sharing about community workers who strengthen their community, Bahini Jenisha Tamang shared,
” I am inspired by my Mom. When I feel like I can’t do anything, and I think of my mom and I get motivation from her. As a woman, she works in the farm, takes care of the family and still finds time to be involved in different social work. She is a strong woman and a source of inspiration for me. And I feel confident in my abilities to overcome all obstacles whenever I see her.”
On this special day, to celebrate with us in the strength of our girls and community members, we invited a local community leader Ms.Lila Kattel Basnet to share her story with the LitClub. Lila Kattel Basnet is also one of the victims of child marriage, because of which she was forced to quit her education. However, her passion for learning and desire for higher education did not subside. So with the support of her husband, Ms. Lila got an opportunity to continue her studies. Ms. Lila, with her drive to do move for her community, also became involved in social work as she continued her education to go on to become a teacher. Today, she also works towards helping drop-out students get back to school and turn their lives around through education.
A strong believer that only education and hard work turns dreams into reality, Ms. Lila strongly advised the Litclub members to continue with their education in any situation. Empowerment comes from knowledge and hard work; as such, education is the backbone of empowerment.