This year, from 3-5 December 2021, we invited 50 participants including Girls Advisory Board members from 11 different schools of Kavrepalanchowk and Sindhupalchowk districts. The participants were our flagship program – Her Turn and His Chance Education and Empowerment program graduates from the year 2019 till 2021.
Despite the difficulty, the conference allowed us to bring together adolescents from various backgrounds and schools and it was great to meet them in-person after a two years gap. Some of the highlights of this year’s conference include the Girls Led Leadership panel led by our President Ms. Rojina Tamang. She was joined by members of our Girls Advisory Board, School Support Committee and Former trainers. Some of the questions asked by our president to the panel include – What do they understand by Girls Led Leadership? What is the positive impact of girls’ leadership on the community? What are the challenges faced by Girls while leading their community? All the panelists echoed the same voice in sharing – it is evident that girls and women in leadership bring positive changes in the community. There are various challenges that discourage women to take leadership roles and one of them is patriarchal society. They also shared education is the key for girl-led leadership as it is the biggest tool for self-empowerment that leads to an empowered family and community. One of the panelist, Ms. Hishila Danuwar said- “I got a chance to get a closer look upon my community when I was a co-trainer in the two weeks long Sneh program for the married and out of school girls. We live in a patriarchal society where even educated women are hesitant to take leadership roles be it political or social platforms. We need to break this and support girl-led leadership so that we have more and more women in the decision-making positions.”
The conference also helped us to understand COVID-19 and its aftermath, especially on the lives of adolescents as they were out of school for a long time. Some of the insights shared by the participants include the challenges they had to face during the lockdown, how were they feeling, how they cope with the situation and how are they doing as the pandemic is still here. One of the participants shared her experience of getting diagnosed with depression during the lockdown. The schools were closed and there wasn’t much to do at home, lots of free time on hand took a toll on her emotional well-being.
One of the major highlights of the conference was the formation of a new Girls Advisory Board. Girl-led leadership is the present and the future of Hamro Palo’s leadership. We were ecstatic to see the enthusiasm and interest of the girls to join the board and contribute in the schools and the communities. With a 13 member new board, we hope to continue our grassroot advocacy in the rural villages.
The side workshops on various themes such as Girls in sports facilitated by Mira Rai Initiative and Travel as a tools for empowerment facilitated by Girls Empowered by Travel helped participants extend their knowledge on the themes. These sessions helped the participants learn about various initiatives and opportunities and explore various fields as they prepare for their career to simply follow their passion. We also had a side workshop on adolescents’ social and mental well-being and VAW and legal information. These sessions were important as we have learnt the difficulties faced by adolescents due to lack of knowledge on legal remedies for violence against women.
Journaling was another powerful session where the girls did a workshop on “Identifying one’s superpower”. Through the workshop the adolescents were able to identify their super power and also went through various activities to learn about the challenges and also the network that they would want to build. The conclusive workshop was on the collective discussion on how girls and boys can work together to build safe spaces for themselves and their peers in their schools and the communities. We are happy to witness the local solutions presented by the adolescents for the issues and problems that they identified in their communities. We are grateful to the adolescents, their schools, parents and our funding partners for making this event possible and looking forward to continuing our dialogue discussions in their schools and the communities in the coming days.
While conducting this event all the Covid-19 health measures were taken into consideration.