Yes, women are amazing. Women are amazing because they have a heart that can endure and love unconditionally. They have a mind that can conceive thoughts that pave the way for generations to come. Most of all, women have the capacity to weather any storm and bloom against all odds.   

March is the month to celebrate the essence of women not only by women but by all. It is a special time to celebrate, acknowledge and appreciate amazing women. These women have changed the way we view gender roles and have re-defined the meaning of leadership. They have touched all aspects of our lives; professionally, personally and socially. Most importantly, they have inspired us to pursue and live our dreams.

Women have definitely achieved and contributed greatly in our times. Being in the minority, in key positions of power has not deterred women of today to make an impact and bring about social, political and economic change. This would not have been possible without the collective and individual efforts of women from diverse walks of life. Who are these women?  How did they manage to achieve the seemingly unachievable, breaking the myth of being the weaker sex?

The recipients of the 12th edition of Celebrating Womanhood Navadevi Award have taught me all the more about the resilience, integrity and the indomitable spirit of women. Their individual stories and commitment to bring positive change is extraordinary. Being hacked to near death situation by poachers did not deter Nanda Devi Kunwar of Kailali to keep working at protecting forests. A group of young girls all under the age of 30 being the voice of a just and equal society through Radio Udaypur; the struggle and rise of Ritu Gyamdan against all odds to establish herself as a rafting guide and the name, Meena Kharel of Chitwan being synonymous to protector, counsel and justice for trafficked women and homeless children are all extraordinary examples.

Likewise, the dedication of Kalpana Karki of Sindhupalchowk to equip the landless with land and being successful in touching the lives of 2000 women, the story of Keshari Thapa of Dharan being the eyes of knowledge and opening the door of independence to the visually impaired and the sheer determination of the women’s group of Makwanpur to jointly fight against discrimination based on HIV and AIDs especially towards young innocent children are no ordinary examples. Laxmi Bhushal, dedicated her life to theatre and radio despite being ostracized by her own family. It was no ordinary struggle for Parbati Dagora, Chairperson of Ama Samuha in Kanchanpur to rise to that position after being exchanged for a pair of bullocks at the age of 11 by her own father.

The story of 14-year-old Sati (name changed) raped and impregnated by her father’s friend is a story that raises anger and disgust towards the perpetrator. Her courage to fight against the injustice despite her own father being ready to accept the sum of Rs 3,00,000 offered to her as compensation and being persistent enough to put the guilty behind bars is extraordinary and an inspiration to all those who have undergone the same circumstances.

These stories need to be told, retold, written and rewritten over and over again. The media and organizations working for women also need to widen their spheres regarding the definition of ‘empowered’ women who are considered successful and regarded as leaders. The media should especially make the extra effort to highlight the efforts of the whole legion of women leaders from all sectors.

These stories have been the motivational factor behind Celebrating Womanhood. These stories should be the motivational factor for each one of us to go ahead and live our dreams. Once again, I would like to salute these amazing women who have inspired us with their thoughts and actions.