March 2 2021

Women, LEADERS of change!

“Women are leaders at heart!  They care, they nourish, they help. They give meaning and direction to life. We must support and integrate them whenever we can.” ~ Shalav Rana, director of operations in Nepal.


On the occasion of the International Women’s Day on March 8, Karuna-Shechen reiterates its commitment to women!

Whether it is our beneficiaries, entrepreneurial and resilient, or our employees engaged in the field, Karuna has the chance to work with inspiring women. Discover their portraits!


Together, let’s celebrate the success of these women!
To support them, you can make a donation.

Working with and for women


At Karuna-Shechen, we focus on empowering women and helping them become key actors of change. They then become true sources of inspiration for their communities.

Our programs give them access to schooling through literacy and numeracy workshops. We also improve the livelihoods of village women by providing access to training and professional opportunities. In total, more than 1,500 women benefited from these programs in 2019.

Other women are being trained to become e-rickshaw drivers – small electric cabs, or solar technicians. By working in areas traditionally reserved for men, women are overcoming gender barriers and are a role model for future generations.

Together, let’s reverse the taboos: let’s empower women to become leaders of change!


These Nepalese and Indian women inspire us! 


Karuna proposes to support women who wish to start up in entrepreneurship by helping them to finance their projects and by accompanying them through professional training. Daulati, who lives in Bihar in India, is one of them:

“Being widowed and elderly, finding a job is very difficult. I wanted to open a business selling vegetables but I didn’t have the means to make it happen. When the lockdown came down last year, I told myself that there was no more hope and that I would have to beg. When Karuna offered to support small businesses, I told myself that this was my chance! Now I sell fresh vegetables to the people in my village and the surrounding villages. I earn enough money to be independent and live on my own. I was nervous at first, I didn’t think I could start from scratch at my age!”


Sabita leads this project in her district. She is also the coordinator of the health projects and sensitizes the women of the village. She says, “I have received very positive feedback from the project. These women are not just earning a better living: they are making progress in arithmetic, have a better understanding of the market and have more self-confidence. It’s a great pride and joy for me to work on a women-centered program”.


Devi lives in Nepal in the village of Udaypur with her husband and two daughters. In January, she trained with Karuna to become a solar technician to learn how to install and maintain solar panels:

I never thought I would be able to benefit from such training. I think women are just as capable as men if they have access to the same education. I attended a 15-day training course in Kathmandu: my husband encouraged me and took care of the house and the children during this time.

The people in my village, however, did not support me at first: they told me that a woman was not able to climb onto the roofs to install solar panels. Some villagers said that men should be trained, not women. But we insisted: we were the ones who were going to be trained!

I’m going to open a small business too: I’ll manage a budget and analyze the market as well as possible so that I can seize opportunities and take initiatives.


You too, act for and with these women.


Keys to understand – Women, gender equality and leadership


Since 2006, the World Economic Forum has been studying every year a Global Gender Gap Index based on four indicators: education, health, the economy and civil and political liberties. In its latest report, it states that gender equality at the global level will not be achieved before the next 99.5 years (1).

It would therefore take another century to close these inequalities and allow women to have the same rights and opportunities as men, on the scale of the 153 countries studied by the organization. Worse still, if we rely exclusively on the criterion of participation and opportunities in the economic field, gender equality would only be achieved in 257 years.

While the majority of countries are moving closer to gender equality in health and education, political and economic inequalities remain significant. It is not just a question of pay or justice: women worldwide do not have as many opportunities and visibility as men to reach leadership positions.

Leadership is the ability of an individual to undertake, to lead a project autonomously, and to make important decisions (2). This does not necessarily apply to the political sphere: a woman can be a leader in the economic and cultural sectors, in the arts for example. It applies to both the professional and personal sphere, in the home for example. We also note that when a woman has strong professional responsibilities, she is confronted with many obstacles: work organization and schedules unsuited to her family responsibilities, pay inequalities, a culture of mistrust and ingrained stereotypes that sometimes lead her to failure (3).

While more and more women are reaching the spheres of leadership in the West, the gap remains huge in our countries of intervention, India and Nepal. These two countries have been structurally disrupted by the massive arrival of women in the salaried labor market in the mid-1990s (4). This change has shaken up family organization, centered around the man’s single income and the central involvement of women in household tasks. 

This reversal of the system implies the questioning of patriarchal stereotypes rooted in these predominantly Hindu societies. Thus, when a woman has a job, or runs a small business, her husband is often the one who takes the important decisions regarding her business (5). The same is true within the household: although women manage the household on a daily basis, they have a limited role in decision-making. This is all the more prevalent in rural areas, which contrast with cities where progressive middle classes are emerging.

“Women’s leadership in India has been slow and uneven, with rural women lacking the same access to health care, education, employment, information, and decision-making power as their urban counterparts. Much remains to be done to address the challenges women face in this patriarchal society”, Anyesha, Communication and Documentation Officer for Karuna India

It is in this economic and cultural context that Karuna acts, alongside these women, to allow them a better recognition in society. Based on a holistic approach, the communities actively participate in defining themselves the objectives and actions of the programs set up by the association.


Understanding, raising awareness and sharing is also taking action!

Resources to go further…


The 5th Goal of Sustainable Development: gender equality. Read the article.

Bias and backlash – the invisible forces that hinder women. Discover the slideshow

Gender equality matters in the response to the covid. Read the article.

Why support the role of women and girls in science and technology? Watch the video.

Empowerment of Women through meditative tools. See the event.


Our sources