Lal Kumari, who is 22 years old, is the eldest daughter of the Shrestha family. Born in Sindhupalchowk, Lal Kumari and her younger sister grew up with their father. Their family, being entirely dependent on agriculture for their survival, does not have a strong income source. Due to several reasons including their poor family background, her younger sister who is now 20 years old got married when she was 14. She is now a mother of a child. Lal Kumari shared emotionally how she could not stop her younger sister from getting married at that time. She added up saying how she also wanted to get married early thinking the husband would help her fulfill her unmet needs.
But, after joining the Her Turn Program in 2017, she learned that there are consequences of early marriage to one’s own physical, emotional, and mental health. She expressed her gratitude to the program for empowering and educating her on such important issues. She says, “If I hadn’t joined the program that time, I would have already got married like my younger sister.”
Lal Kumari smiled to herself as she recalled her joyful days at Her Turn Workshop that helped her to make the right decision in life. Today, along with continuing her undergraduate studies, she is also working as a teacher in the same school she graduated from. Besides this, she, who believes in youth power, is actively engaged in advocating for women’s rights and spreading awareness in rural families and communities. She is not just the eldest daughter to her father and an elder sister to her elder father, but also an inspiration for other girls like her to prioritize one’s own academic and career goals over anything in life.
(Lal Kumari Shrestha is a 2017 Her Turn Program Graduate)
“I still get shivers when I think about my first menstruation. I was only 11 years old when I was forced to leave the comfort of my home and made to sleep in a hut nearby for 15 days. I was forbidden to take part in daily family activities and see the male members of my family. I can’t explain the feeling of hopelessness and loneliness that I felt during that period.”- says Smriti, 15 years old in an emotional tone. Smriti added, “I would have been confident to deal with my first menstruation if I had taken Her Turn Program earlier.” Smriti participated in Her Turn Program in 2021. She expressed that the Her Turn Program not only educate her on important issues but also empowered her to implement her learning and take practical steps in life.
In regards to this, Smriti proudly shared how she convinced her parents to not force her younger sister to sleep in a hut during her first menstruation. She expressed with pride that at least her sister didn’t have to suffer in a hut like her. Today, the Sapkota family is setting an example for the entire community to stop the menstrual restriction practice. Smriti’s journey of fighting for dignified menstruation is indeed commendable and we are extremely proud of her.
(Smriti Sapkota is a 2021 Her Turn Program Graduate)
Mahima Tamang, a 13-year-old girl from Sindhupalchowk district, is currently pursuing her studies as a grade 8 student at Shree Irkhu Secondary School. Her Turn workshop provided Mahima with an opportunity to learn about vital topics such as menstruation, harassment, drug and substance use, child marriage, and empowering women when she was just 11 years old.
Mahima demonstrated her knowledge and skills acquired from the workshop by sharing it with her 14-year-old cousin, who had not participated in the workshop. Her cousin had limited knowledge about menstrual care, but Mahima educated her about the proper usage of sanitary pads and maintaining personal hygiene during periods. Her cousin was grateful for the information and applied it to her life, which made Mahima feel empowered.
Mahima expressed her enthusiasm about using the knowledge she gained from the workshop to take care of herself when she has her first menstruation.“ When I’ll get my first period, I will use the knowledge that I had learned from the workshop to take care of myself .” The workshop provided her with the necessary skills and knowledge to make informed decisions about her health, education, and future. Mahima’s participation in the 2021 Her Turn workshop has undoubtedly empowered her to become a well-informed citizen.
(Mahima Tamang is a 2021 Her Turn Program Graduate)
Growing up in a diverse community, Khusi (Name Changed) witnessed numerous social issues, including sexual harassment, domestic violence, and molestation. At the age of nine, Khusi herself became a victim of sexual violence by a close relative. However, Khusi lacked knowledge about violence, harassment, and reporting mechanisms, resulting in the perpetrator going unpunished, and the communication being resolved within the community.
Attending the Her Turn workshop was a turning point for Khusi. She learned that sexual violence can happen to anyone and that many young women, like her, have experienced sexual violence in their community. By listening to other women’s harassment experiences, Khusi felt motivated to fight back, raise her voice, and take leadership during difficult situations. Khusi’s participation in Hamro Palo’s training on sexual and gender violence in Bhaktapur further boosted her confidence. Now, she is determined to work for an organization that advocates for women’s rights and strives to bring gender equality to her community after completing her studies.
(Khushi is a 2022 Her Turn Program Graduate )
Nabina is a bright and active student at Shree Mahankal Secondary School in Panchkhal, Kavrepalanchok. She is known for her enthusiastic participation in school extracurricular activities and encourages her peers to do the same. In addition, she serves as the secretary for her school’s Child Club, where she helps maintain student discipline. Nabina is passionate about advocating against early marriage in her community, and with the support of her parents, she has already prevented one of her friends from getting married too soon. Despite her friend’s initial decision to get married, Nabina continued to persuade both her friend and her friend’s parents about the importance of education and the potential consequences of early marriage. She has also shared the knowledge she gained from a workshop on menstruation and harassment with her classmates and younger students.
Nabina believes that the workshop has significantly increased the confidence levels of girls in her school, who are now more comfortable sharing their problems with their peers and teachers without hesitation. Her determination and positivity inspire others to support women’s empowerment and leadership, and to speak out against harmful practices like dowry. By advocating for the rights of girls and women in her community, Nabina is making a significant contribution to building a more equitable and just society.
(Nabina Tiwari is a 2022 Her Turn Program Graduate)
Pasmai Tamang, a graduate of the 2019 Her Turn program, is determined to combat gender discrimination in her community and be a role model for positive social change. Growing up in the Sindhupalchowk district as the youngest daughter in a family with financial struggles, Pasmai experienced firsthand the negative effects of gender bias when her mother was unable to give birth to a son. However, when her mother did eventually have a son, the community began treating them differently.
Pasmai recognizes that early marriage and pregnancy, elopement, domestic violence, polygamy, polyandry, and gender inequality are all prevalent issues in her village. Through the Her Turn program, she gained leadership skills and a better understanding of menstruation. Pasmai is passionate about encouraging girls to participate in sports, as they are often excluded from school sports activities despite their interest. She believes “ girls in sports can make a significant difference in addressing issues such as child marriage, school dropout rates, domestic violence, polygamy, and polyandry.”
In 2019, Pasmai led a volleyball match at Shree Bhimsen Secondary School, encouraging her female peers to participate. She was thrilled to see boys and girls in the audience cheering for the players, demonstrating a newfound gender inclusivity. This experience made Pasmai feel more confident and empowered. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Pasmai and her community were grateful for the support of Hamro Palo, which provided sanitary napkins and helped address the challenges of drying period cloths during the monsoon season.
(Pasmai Tamang is a 2019 Her Turn program graduate)
“I found Hamro Palo’s Sneh Workshop to be extremely valuable for me. As a 22-year-old mother living in Kavrepalanchowk with my husband and in-laws, our family relies heavily on agriculture, and my husband works in a brick kiln. During the workshop, I learned about future planning, family planning, financial literacy, and infant care, and I have been able to properly utilize this information for myself.”
Thanks to the workshop, I learned how to properly nurture and take care of my child. I also received guidance on the importance of nutritious foods for the mother and the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby’s physical, mental, and social development. Additionally, I gained knowledge about vaccinations and providers for infants and children. When I took the Sneh workshop in 2020, I was a few months pregnant. I utilized the knowledge gained during my pregnancy and lactating phase, and I also practiced birth spacing, keeping in mind any potential pregnancy complications and health problems. Now, I am confident and can apply the knowledge gained from the workshop in any future childbirth. Overall, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this workshop and for the valuable information that I have learned.
(Sushila Danuwar is a 2020 Sneh workshop graduate)
Renu Majhi is a young, enthusiastic, and inquisitive girl who has a strong desire to help others. She has been actively working towards sensitizing her fellow students on a range of important topics, including menstruation, leadership, self-respect, and self-confidence.
Recently, Renu’s younger sister experienced her first menstrual cycle and was understandably anxious about it, given her lack of knowledge on the subject. In order to offer support and encouragement to her sister, Renu explained that menstruation is a natural process that every woman experiences. She also advised her sister to maintain a healthy diet and to use and dispose of sanitary pads properly.
As an active member of the Girls Support Committee at her school, Renu was inspired by the Her Turn workshop that she attended when she was 18 years old. Along with her team members, she has been spreading awareness among young students at her school about the importance of self-respect, self-confidence, leadership, menstruation, and hygiene. Renu is grateful for the opportunity to have learned about these important topics through the workshop, and she is already applying what she learned to her daily life. She believes that the knowledge she gained from the workshop will be useful to her for the rest of her life.
(Renu Majhi is a 2022 Her Turn program graduate)
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