‘Lead like a Woman’ Conference: INSPIRING the next generation of Nepali leaders
‘Lead like a Woman’ conference was a two-day conference that brought together some of Nepal’s trailblazing woman leaders — all of whom who continue to forge their own unique path.
The conference sought to give guidance and perspective to students by reflecting on the personal journeys of women leaders to success from diverse backgrounds; including both their triumphs and their challenges, and reflections on navigating gender inequality, discrimination, violence, and other societal barriers.
The two-day conference took place on April 21 and April 22, 2022, at Aloft Kathmandu. It was funded by American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and partnered with Oxford University Clinical Research Unit-Nepal.
The conference included a keynote speech, panel discussions, mentorship sessions with leaders, documentary screenings, personal stories of resilience, and open questions and answers on career. Students from 11 colleges participated, studying diverse fields including medicine, public health, law, nursing, management, social work, and arts. A total of 137 participated in the conference.
The conference was inaugurated by the esteemed guest, Shree Yam Kumari Khatiwada, the Secretary of Economic and Infrastructure Development, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.
In the keynote session, Dr. Madhu Dixit Devkota shared perspectives on the different social expectations for women to sacrifice personal aspirations compared to men, which could limit their career, and how perseverance can overcome such trials and tribulations.
A panel discussion followed with four distinguished women trailblazers of the country. The panel included a prominent transgender activist, Bhumika Shrestha, the country’s first female General Manager of a Banking company, Barsha Shrestha, the first female General Surgeon, Dr. Paleswan Joshi Lakhey, and a female pioneer in Journalism, Namrata Shrestha. These women shared their phenomenal journeys and encouraged the young participants to fearlessly embark on their own unique journeys.
Two documentary films were shown ‘I am Belmaya’ and ‘Picture a Scientist’. ‘I am Belmaya’ is the autobiographical story of a rural woman, Belmaya. It presents her journey of rebellion, courage, and hope in patriarchal Nepal., the director of the film, Belmaya, received a standing ovation from the audience.
“Picture a Scientist” portrays often shocking, sometimes subtle and pernicious, gender-related challenges facing female scientists in American institutions, and the ways in which some leading female scientists have challenged and overcome the prevailing bias. This film reflected the global nature of bias facing women in science and broadened the discussion beyond the intense patriarchal attitudes of Nepali society. Picture a scientist presented new perspectives on how to make science more diverse, equitable, and open to all, and stimulated an interesting discussion from our panellists.
This conference stimulated changed perspectives, raised questions and grew networks among the participants. We finished the conference with a grand finale performance by the popular Nepali artist, Ms. Samriddhi Rai of her uplifting song ‘ma dami chhu (I am fabulous). We hope that this conference has ignited in our fabulous audience a feeling to be courageous to overcome social prejudices and achieve their dreams. We sincerely thank our distinguished guests and panellists for their stimulating contributions, frankly sharing personnel stories to facilitate the path to success for the next generation of Nepali leaders.
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