February 5 2019
Karuna-Shechen began when Matthieu Ricard was inspired to undertake compassionate action for people in the Himalayan region. Now in our 19th year, we help over 250,000 people annually in remote v...
Karuna-Shechen funds programs to provide sustainable sources of food in India and Nepal. Initiatives to reintroduce the cultivation of traditional vegetables such as onions, green beans, and eggplants bring elevated food security to communities that have been relying heavily on imported rice and other staples.
Women take the lead in managing and safeguarding these green spaces, learning techniques to enhance self-reliance and sustainability, and collaborating to provide sustenance for their children. The result is a huge harvest in food and opportunities.
One of the women spearheading the project in Nepal is Sulochana Shrestha, founder of Himalayan Ecosystems Pvt, our food security partner. With her help, we are training village women in the most impoverished and remote rural communities in the country.
In honor of International Women’s Day, (March 8, 2018), we share this interview:
What motivated you to create your own organization?
“I wanted to dedicate my life to doing work in line with my values, to focus on equality, justice and freedom. When I founded Himalayan Ecosystems Pvt Ltd., my goal was to contribute to the development of the poorest rural areas of my country.
I wanted to give people who are challenged and under-resourced who are residing in remote areas the tools, skills and knowledge they need to improve their living conditions.”
What challenges do Nepali women face?
“Nepali women face many challenges in life. Most of them lack confidence because, since childhood, they are neither valued nor encouraged to study or become financially independent. They are still often considered inferior to men and confined to household chores. Those who express ambitions or work outside are generally perceived with suspicion or contempt.
Unfortunately, when they manage to overcome these first obstacles, they face harassment or exploitation. Finally, it is not uncommon for them to be discriminated against in favor of their male counterparts, who have many more opportunities.”
How did you manage to overcome all these obstacles?
“I overcame them one by one, through perseverance. But I was also very lucky to have parents who believed in me and who gave me access to a good education. It allowed me to be independent and to pursue my personal and professional aspirations. Finally, I have a husband who has always supported me in everything I wanted to do.”
Why is it important to change attitudes?
“If we want our country to progress, it is essential to change attitudes and stereotypes about what women can and cannot do. Women’s access to education, training and economic opportunities must be encouraged and supported.
It is important for young Nepali women to stay in school and to gain greater confidence in their own abilities. We need to create a woman-friendly learning and work environment, and to provide the tools and opportunities women need to reach their full potential.”
How does your work with Karuna-Shechen contribute to the empowerment of rural women?
The training and empowerment of rural Nepali women is at the heart of our strategy to strengthen food security in remote villages of Nepal.
In partnership with Karuna-Shechen, we developed and implemented a program to work directly in isolated communities to train village women in small-scale organic farming. Through our trainings, they learn new techniques. Gradually, they become aware that they are capable, just like the men of their village, of improving the living conditions in their community.”
Meet the villagers, our team, and all those who make our work possible. Discover the values that guide and inspire us. And learn how your generous support improves the living conditions of 250,000 peo...