Ava Shah, President of Zonta Club of Kathmandu, aims to build a better world for women and girls through Zonta’s focus on service and advocacy. She has been a part of Zonta since its establishment in Nepal. “I have always wanted to work for the rights of women and girls in our country. We, women are capable of many things but only a few are appreciated for their work. My reason to join Zonta was to give women a platform where they are praised, considered equal, and able to pave opportunities for the next generation,” Ava says.
With her heart set on working towards the economic empowerment of Nepali women, Ava has been leading various projects. The club has adopted Masine village. “We are working towards agriculture skill development and market linkage strategies in this village to make the farmers independent,” she says.
Many of the projects of Zonta Club of Kathmandu were initiated by her predecessors; and the practical Ava believes that continuity of these projects will have a higher impact than creating new ones. “I want to invest time and energy in the projects that were already started rather than adding more projects to the existing list,” she says.
Under her Presidency, Zonta Club of Kathmandu has already handed over 648 books and magazines to the two libraries of Durbar High School. The other projects are focused on education, violence against women, campaign on ending child marriage, and various advocacy and empowerment programmes. In her two-year tenure as President of Zonta Club of Kathmandu, Ava wants to increase opportunities for women to work outside the home in decent and productive employment. “More women in workforce means better security,” she states. She says that income in the hands of women, independent of men’s income, leads to increased diet diversity and improved health indicators for women. “Income empowers women to give preference to expenditures which are more welfare enhancing for themselves and their children,” she elaborates. “Even though we live today in the wealthiest world that mankind has seen so far, millions of women are still relegated to low-paid jobs and unpaid labour,” she stresses.
Ava is also the Co Founder and Managing Director of Silver Mountain School of Management and as a part of Zonta she has been working on campaigns focusing on preventing workplace harassment and cyber crime in different companies and organisations. “Violence, day in and day out, strips women of their dignity, livelihood, health and peace of mind. We want to create awareness about women’s rights and encourage them to thoroughly acquaint themselves with the mandatory provisions. We did one of such workshops in Jyoti Group,” she shares. Many companies and organisations have set up Internal Complaint Committees while many are considering it. “Setting up inquiries without full understanding the legal terms and its functioning is counterproductive. A legal understanding is essential,” she explains.
Zonta Club of Kathmandu is a non-governmental organisation working in Nepal to advance Zonta International’s mission and vision. It works to improve the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women through service and advocacy.