Alisha Lamichane did not know much about cameras until a few years ago as she was worried over other things about her future. Now she is busy clicking pictures at various events, earning a decent living off it. Although the idea of women as photographers is still uncommon in Nepal, Lamichane is among a number of women who have of late taken up photography as their career. The credit for this goes to ‘Her Farm Films’ project of The Mountain Fund, a non-profit working for women empowerment.
“I was confused about my life, and felt like I had no purpose. With a camera in my hand, I now feel powerful. In the future, I want to train girls like me in the field of photography and videography,” says Lamichane.
With its programs based in rural Nepal, Her Farm Films encourages women to modernize their traditional farming skills and apply it to new commercial ventures. It also encourages them to learn modern and highly employable skills in the fields of digital and visual arts. It runs training workshops on film production and photography, and trains women to operate FM radio stations. These are saleable skills for women at the local level.
Eight women trained by the project are currently working as photo-and video-graphers. “There is huge demand for photographers for wed-ding and other events,” says Scott MacLennan, founder and executive director of Her Farm Films. “Pho-tographers from Kathmandu are not willing to go to villages, and hardly anyone there has the ability to use camera. Due to this, these women have to work more. Sometimes one photographer has to do three events in a day,” The organization boosts women’s financial empowerment by helping them take up careers beyond the stereotypes of tailoring and running beauty parlors often associated with them. “We aim to change the conversa-tion about woman’s empowerment from low-skill, low-paid work to high-skill, well-paid work,” MacLennan adds. MacLennan’s wife Sunita Sub-edi Sharma, director of the orga-nization’s Nepal Volunteering Pro-grams, recalls how she had to face many difficulties in life—from being an unwanted child in the family to enduring domestic abuse in an arranged marriage. “We established Her Farm Films to show that women can do anything and achieve success,” says Sharma. “I do not want any woman to suffer like I did. If I can pull myself up, why can’t they?”
“Media is a powerful tool to make people hear your story. We thus encourage women to get involved in mainstream media and to motivate others,” she adds. Her Farm Films is also serious about local self-sustenance. It has a guesthouse whose proceeds partially cover organizational costs. Women associated with the project work on the farm, do photography, and help run the guesthouse. They also have volunteers from different countries.