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‘Women leaders’ graduate, ready to drive societal change

Although the family initially hoped Priyanjali would pursue a career in the technical field, they now fully support her dream of becoming a teacher

‘Women leaders’ graduate, ready to drive societal change

Kathmandu: “We have learned what it means to be a woman, and more importantly, what it means to be a woman who holds the power to redefine traditional definitions of equality and feminism tainted by patriarchal imprints in our society.”

When Priyanjali Karn, 22, from Janakpur, spoke these words from the podium to a packed hall, her parents beamed with pride. Eight months ago, she was quite different, they said. Karn’s mother, Subha Suhasini, 52, noted that her daughter was progressing and improving day by day. Her father, Satyandralal Karn, head teacher at the Kalimati-based Jana Prabhat Secondary School, observed that Priyanjali had become “more social, expressive, and extra confident in public speaking.” 

Although the family initially hoped Priyanjali would pursue a career in the technical field, they now fully support her dream of becoming a teacher. She is determined to advance the cause of women in her community and catalyze social change. “Now her choice is ours,” her father affirmed.

Priyanjali Karn, a proud daughter of Madhes, was among 18 girls from diverse castes and communities who graduated from the Young Women’s Political Leadership Course (YWPLC) 2023/24 program by Women LEAD Nepal. She received the ‘Most Growth Award’ for her batch. During her visit to Madhes Province as part of the course, she realized the significant challenges Madhesi women face, especially in education, and feels a personal responsibility to uplift them.

The graduation ceremony for participants of both the YWPLC and the year-long ‘Lead Course’ was held in the capital on Saturday. Reflecting on her journey, Priyanjali shared, “At the start of the YWPLC course, I was scared and nervous, unsure of what lay ahead. I felt helpless and disappointed at why women are still looked down upon. I was afraid to ask questions, fearing my lack of knowledge would be exposed.” She continued, “But these eight months have been a beautiful journey of learning, unlearning, understanding, internalizing, and searching for hope in where we stand and what we must question.”

Ranjana Ramtel, 18, from Sindhupalchowk, won the ‘Most Growth Award’ for the Lead Course 2023/24, which featured 27 Grade 12 young women in Nepal. “The Lead Course was a turning point in my life. It introduced me to women’s leadership and taught me skills I had missed out on for 18 years. I learned public speaking, leadership, active listening, time management, civic engagement, and more. I also learned to engage in social issues and work as a change-maker,” she explained.

A management student, Ramtel now aspires to become a societal leader over the next decade. Her mother, Maiya Ramtel, 41, traveled to the capital to attend the graduation ceremony. She marveled at the transformations in her daughter over the past year and expressed hope that her daughter would dedicate herself to fostering social transformation, combating discrimination, and standing firmly for her beliefs.

According to Women LEAD Nepal’s Executive Director, Hima Bista, the Lead Course is designed to empower Grade 12 young women with a deep understanding of leadership styles and personal strengths. It focuses on building confidence, communication skills, and resilience, equipping young women with the tools and support needed to become influential leaders and advocates for change in Nepal. The YWPLC, targeted at women aged 18-25, aims to provide foundational knowledge of Nepal’s democratic system and political processes, along with essential professional skills for political organization and an understanding of the importance of intersectionality and women in politics and leadership.

Lawmaker Dr Toshima Karki, who attended the graduation ceremony to inspire the graduates, emphasized the need for meaningful representation and leadership of women in all state apparatus. She asserted that women’s empowerment would remain incomplete until women were economically empowered. Dr Karki hoped that the graduates would significantly contribute to shaping the future of women’s leadership and urged them to continually enhance their skills to claim their roles and leadership in various sectors of society.