Women of substance

Ranjana Biswokarma


Few of Ranjana Bishwokarma’s friends in Mahottari have passed Grade 10, and most were married young, which makes her journey to be a lawyer in the Patan High Court all the more extraordinary. She was determined to support her family and completed her masters in law and a postgraduate degree in management.

“I could accomplish all this because of my parents and my hard work,” says Ranjana, whose father and mother are now rightfully proud of her. Ranjana herself feels she is now in a position to legally do battle for justice and against discrimination based on gender, caste and religion. “I want to serve society through my legal skills,” she says.

Sabitra Bhandari


Having scored 29 international goals for Nepal’s national foot team, ‘Samba’ has not only established herself as a ferocious striker, but has also become an inspiration for other Nepali young women.

Now 23, Sabitra grew up working in the fields of Pamchok village in Lamjung. The second of four sisters, she did not wear kurtas or saris and was a bit of a ‘tom boy’ with short hair and blonde highlights, which earned her the nickname ‘Samba’ after the Brazilian dance.

Sabitra wore football boots for the first time for a women’s match in a neighbouring village. But her career kicked off when she was invited to play for the APF Club in kathmandu.

As she prepared to leave for the city, she was told that girls should not take such a journey alone. But Sabitra ignored that advice and snide comments from her neighbours.

Today she is able to help her father pay the tuition fees of her sisters and brothers at home, a football field is being built in her village in Lamjung, and the neighbours who dissuaded her now welcome Sabitra with pride, saying, “Take other young girls from the village to play football with you.”

Read more: Hop over the gender gap

Sulochana Poudel

Army Major

When the Nepal Army opened its doors to women as officer cadets 14 years ago, then college student Sulochana Poudel of Thimi immediately joined. She was always fascinated by army parades at the nearby Gothatar barracks, and had wanted to become a soldier for as long as she remembers. Today, thanks to hard work and determination, Sulochana is now an army major.

She is the first woman to take the Nepal Army’s Command and Staff course, and a road has now opened for her to become a brigadier general. If she is able to participate in the National Defence Course, she could even compete to become the first female chief of the Nepal Army.

“I grew up in a traditional environment. Some didn’t get the opportunity to study like me and some got better education than me. But Nepali society is changing for women and that is what is most important. We have still have a lot more to do, but we have also achieved a lot.”

Maya Gurung


When Maya Gurung was a child in Sindhupalchok, she used to gaze out at the Gyalzen Peak of the Jugal Himal Range and dream one day of setting foot on its icy summit. But her parents wanted her to get married and have children.

At age 14, her parents fixed her wedding to a person she had never met. One day before the ceremony, the seventh grader ran away from home. Two days later, police found Maya and brought her home, but her father refused to let her enter the house because of the shame she had brought on the family.

In 2008, Maya became part of the First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition and reached the top of Mt Everest, the first woman from the Gurung community to do so. Her village organised a program to honour Maya, and invited her father. With tears in his eyes, Maya’s father admitted that he had not  known that of his daughter’s determination and interest. He asked for forgiveness, and Maya hugged him tearfully.

Today, Maya helps trafficked girls from her district who have been rescued to become trekking guides. For that work the Nepal Government honoured her with the ‘Prabal Jana Sewa Sri Padak’ award.

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