Bhawani, 22, is a leader in her community in rural Nepal, advocating for women’s rights and rebuilding lives after the earthquake in 2015. Step into her story, and experience a glimpse of her world, through the 360 degree photos below.

Growing up as a girl in Nepal

My parents used to think girls should get married early and did not need an education. I was determined to continue studying. As I started doing well in school their perception changed.

They now support me and I am not subjected to the pressure of getting married anymore. I am doing a Bachelor’s degree and training to become a teacher. I even earn some income through my teacher training, so I am able to look after my younger sister and brother’s education too.

Bhawani in-front of her home, surrounded by the women in her life; her mother, sisters and friend. (PC Restless Development/ Suraj Shakya)

In recent times the roles of women have changed. There are female health volunteers who help tackle and address women related issues, whether it is labor related or other primary health care services. Also, there is a mother’s group that addresses other gender related issues, such as child marriage.

“The roles of females are changing for better.”

It just is not possible to end all gender related issues by an individual. There are still many cases of child marriage in this area and I am unable to do it alone. I advocate against child marriage and make suggestions that we need to end this practice. My colleagues also make an effort to address this issue, but change will take time.

Leading change in my community

When the Earthquake struck for the first time on April 25th 2015, I was with my sister. We were sleeping when everything started shaking. The fan started shaking and bottles fell from the cupboard. We yelled “Earthquake, Earthquake” and rushed to the door. Then I was hit by a realization I had survived the earthquake.

A lot was lost in the earthquake. I went over to my cousin’s place in Manthali, but her house had been demolished. My cousin was in tears and devastated, so I tried to console her. The next day, as I made my way back home, earthquake struck again but we walked on. As we reached closer home, I got the news that my aunt had passed away in Kathmandu.  It was then I felt utter grief and devastation.

“This earthquake has come and gone, but left a mark that will be passed onto generations to come.”

Devastation caused to a local school as a result of the earthquake. (PC Restless Development/ Suraj Shakya)

 

I found encouragement through Restless Development. My job was to go to the affected villages and counsel the villagers. I had to tell them that earthquake was a natural disaster and it had come, and encourage them to build their lives back. I was also assigned to collect necessary data.  The data collected represents the affected area and identifies the victim, so, this data I believe will be helpful in bringing developmental work in this region.

“I believe everyone should be powerful and empowered. Youths like me should come forward and not be hesitant to do things.”

Take a ‘behind the scenes’ look at this video shoot, staring Bhawani, check out the film here! (PC Restless Development/ Suraj Shakya)

This blog is part of our #YouthPower series for International Women’s Day, find out more here.

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