Every year, International Women’s Day prompts the world to reflect on women’s rights, empowerment, and achievements. Zonta Club of Kathmandu joined the global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women as part of this year’s International Women’s Day and Yellow Rose Day by honouring the efforts of individuals working towards their dream while breaking gender barriers. At the Yellow Rose Day event held on March 8, the Zonta Club of Kathmandu presented awards to women from different walks of life. WOW introduces you to the award recipients who were recognised under different categories:
Princess Helen Shah Inspired Award
34-year-old Mira Rai is an international trail runner. Her unlikely journey from school dropout in a remote Nepali village to Maoist child soldier to national sports hero is a story that has inspired many. A chance encounter led her to take up the sport of ultra running in 2014. Since then, she has rapidly ascended the global ranks, winning prestigious titles including National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year 2017. The ultra-marathon runner, Mira Rai, has also been honoured with the ‘Asian Game Changer Award’ in New York.
Awards like these are not just an honour for me but for every woman in sports. And it is also an encouragement for girls and women who want to be a sportsperson.
Amar Rana Game Changer Award
In 2019, at the age of 15, Muskan became the victim of an acid attack for rejecting a boy’s advances. Muskan turned this tragedy into an opportunity to bring about change in Nepal’s laws pertaining to acid attack. Overcoming her grief and facing the constant social pressure, Muskan lobbied for stronger laws and punishments for acid attacks. She met with Prime Minister K.P. Oli who called for a new law to be drafted for acid attacks and issued an ordinance punishing perpetrators and regulating the sale of chemicals.
Winning this award has boosted my self-esteem, restored my faith, and made me forget about my struggles. It’s like a motivation to make me continue my journey and life.
Ratna Devi Women In Sports
Susma is the first Nepali to reach the finals and secure a silver in the Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) U-22 Men and Women Boxing Championships in Bangkok. She won the title of national player and best boxer when she was just 17. In the under-19 category at the World Championship in Poland, she was among the top six players.
I was overjoyed to win this award because I never imagined I would win a cash prize through boxing. I am sure moments like this can inspire and motivate upcoming junior players.
Ratna Devi Women In Sports
Sonika Dhakal has spinal paralysis but she decided to change her life trajectory by living as independently as she can. She works as a consultant with the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre, and is a role model for people who come for rehabilitation. Each day, she helps people reintegrate into society, stay healthy, and raise public awareness about disability. She was the first woman with a spinal cord disability to compete in the swimming competition at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in 2010. In 2018, she also got the opportunity to participate in table tennis competition held in India.
This award give me a new ray of hope, and is a way for others to look up to you. It is a reminder to change the lens of the world in how they view people like me.
Jyoti Scholarship Award
Samiksha Khadka is a student of computer science at Padma Kanya Multiple Campus. She is a data science enthusiast who works with “Girls in Tech” which promotes empowering girls to pursue careers in STEM fields. As a Jyoti scholarship awardee, she has founded a group called ‘Jyoti’ to provide technical education to girls regardless of their field of study. She became a member of Girls in Tech Nepal in 2021 where she received the support and opportunities provided by the organisation to help her grow both personally and professionally.
This award has given me a huge confidence boost, and now I am raring to go. One of my long-standing aspirations was to establish an organisation within my campus, and this award has provided the impetus I needed to embark on this project.
Jyoti Scholarship Award
Bibusha Pathak is a BBA student at Little Angels College of Management. Bibusha works as a general volunteer at Innovation for Change, South Asia. She has been a part of several social initiatives aimed at improving people’s lives which give her experiences to value empathy, dedication and hard work, crucial qualities in bringing about meaningful change. She is passionate about women’s empowerment and believes it to be the key to achieving gender equality and sustainable development.
Winning an award is a great motivation for me as it provides validation for my work and achievements. Being recognised for my work by the Zonta Club gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment and encourages me to continue pursuing my goals and striving for excellence in my endeavours.
Indrakala Scholarship Award
Kalbina Shrestha is an engineering student at Pulchowk Engineering Campus. She is an enthusiastic learner and actively participates in various events, activities and clubs.
Awards give me a sense of appreciation and encourage me to work harder to achieve my goals. It reminds me to be more consistent.
Indrakala Scholarship Award in the Public Affairs category
Anjani Pokhrel is a BA LLB third-year student at the Kathmandu School of Law. She is passionate about youth and women’s empowerment. She also served as club president of the Leo Club of Kathmandu for two consecutive years. Further, she was the program coordinator of a feminist campaign called SheTheKranti where events solely based on the agenda of feminism were organised. Currently, she is focused more on her studies and different volunteering activities.
I am optimistic but sometimes you want to stop. This award comes at a perfect timing to serve as a reminder about the depth of our work, and as a flame of motivation.
Nisha Chaulagain is the youngest female driver of Sajha Yatayat’s e-buses. She joined Sajha for the love of driving and to break the ceiling by joining a male-dominated profession. She had her light vehicle license and a job as a prepaid metro taxi driver for Nepal Mediciti Hospital by the age of 21. For two years, she worked as a driver for a judge at Patan High Court. In the beginning, she wanted to do something different but now she aims to make a difference in society and hopes to inspire more women to break barriers. She believes that having women drivers and conductors create a safe environment for passengers.
Winning this award means so much to me. I never thought my work would inspire others so much. It makes me happy that my work has created an impact on other women to come forward without being held back because of their gender.
Sita Subedi lost a leg at the age of 12 and worked hard to become an accomplished Kathak dancer. After years of hard work, she finally won a gold medal at the intermediate level in Kathak in 2018. She believes that people with disabilities do not need sympathy; they just need an environment where they can grow and make a space for themselves. She was determined to break the stereotypical mindset that people with disabilities cannot be independent.
Awards motivate you to keep contributing to society and working to achieve your goals. It makes you more devoted to your work so that people can be inspired by you.
PINKY SHITAL GURUNG
Pinky Shital Gurung, a transwoman, is a candidate under the Proportional Representation (PR) category from one of the political parties. She believes that there is a strong need for the representation of transgender people in the new parliament to give voice to gender and sexual minorities.
This recognition is an honour. Such moments mean a lot to my community who are barely recognised.
Suneera Regmi is the first Nepali-registered female Aerospace Engineer. She has been working as the Senior Flight Operations Engineer with Nepal Airlines Corporation for over a decade. “I was the first woman to get a license from the Nepal Engineering Council in 2008 and it took a few years more for any other female to join the list,” she states. Suneera says that there are still very few women in this field.
It is my privilege to be recognised. After the award, many youths especially women approached me seeking advice on aerospace engineering and aeronautical engineering. It gives me pleasure to learn about their interest to engage in this sector. This award has for sure increased my exposure among youths. They are curious about possible academic opportunities, and career goals. This gives me pride and makes me closer to my goal of encouraging young women to consider this as a career option.
Jane M. Klausman (JMK) Women in Business Scholarship of USD $5000
From a young age, I witnessed my family struggle financially, and it ignited a fierce desire within me to become financially independent and sound. I poured my heart into my studies, extracurricular activities, and business, all with the goal of helping my family and being responsible for my own expenses. Juggling multiple roles, from running my business, excelling in studies to seeking out scholarships, was exhausting, but it was all worth it. When I learnt that I was one of only 37 women worldwide to receive the JMK Women in Business Scholarship, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. The scholarship has relieved a tremendous amount of stress and allowed me to focus on my studies and business, bringing me closer to my dream. I am deeply grateful for this honor, and I hope that my story inspires others to persevere in the face of adversity.