by Rukshana Kapali

Women Leadership Summit 1138(2018) is organized by Ujyalo Foundation every year for young women professionals in Nepal with a lens towards leadership at workplace through gender and sexuality. Women Leadership Summit aims to enhance young women’s participation in leadership and decision making roles at workplace. The theme of this year’s summit is “Leadership Beyond Binaries and Boundaries”. The summit lasts for six months, and it kicked off with a residential program.

Unpacking Leadership Through Gender and Sexuality

Strengthening Organizational Leadership (teamwork, power and leadership, and effective communication)

Bodily Integrity, and Gender Based Discrimination

Opportunity Optimization and Local Resource Utilization

Accountable Leadership at Workplace

Communication and Alliance building

Self Care for Women Leaders

Day 1
On Nepal Era 1138 Chilla 7, i.e. 22 February 2018, 21 women traveled to Sauraha for attending the first residential program. We were picked up early morning from Lainkhyo(Lainchaur) in Kathmandu and we traveled all way to Sauraha, Chitwan. With that few hours of travel, we reached to Hotel Nature Heritage at Sauraha, where we were welcomed by facilitators Amuda Mishra, Kripa Basnyat and Tara, and with a hotel staff serving welcome drinks. We were set off to start the first day.

Pre-explanation about the program and Ujyalo Foundation

The facilitators explained about Ujyalo Foundation and the Summit we are participating in. Beginning with our introduction, the first activity was “The Power of NOW”. In this activity we brainstormed about major incidents in our lives where we took decisions. We had to think about the age since we started making decisions about ourselves and note them down under two categories: The decision that we took and succeeded, and the ones which did not. With this activity, we also identified who were the obstructions in our decision making process and to which degree did it affected.

In the activity, women shared about their biggest decisions in the life till date, and how various factors affected their decision making. In a positive note, most of the decisions made could succeed despite of the barriers. I as a transgender woman shared my story on how I had made many decisions in my life, starting from coming out and to transition, and how many decisions in my school life could not succeed due to authoritarian school rules and bully principal; and how many decisions in my life succeeded after school due to my supportive parents. Each individual had their own unique story to share, as a girl child in the family.

The day ended with a note on learning how various social factors affect and determine our decision making in our lives and how we have challenged these social factors. We were also given a collection of reading materials, where there are extract from various publications about Gender and Sexuality was put in. Our first reading for the night was, “What is patriarchy”

Day 2
Nepal Era 1138 Chilla 8, i.e. 23 February 2018

Sociograming Activity
The second day started with Sociogramming activity. We gathered in the garden. The facilitators asked us to find a common identity among 21 participants on the basis that was spoken. We were asked to form a group of common education status. Then we talked with the participants about their educational status and formed groups where they were SLC passed, received informal education, Bachelor running and so on. Then some of us shared about why they are at the educational status, what affected their educational status and so on. Then again we were asked to group ourselves whether we studied in Government school or private. The same story sharing activity was done. We grouped on basis of whether we own our own property or not. The story sharing activity was repeated at every grouping.

This activity ended on a note that women from various background have their own challenge they have faced and the socio-economic status of women.

Understanding Gender
After an infant takes birth, the first question asked to parents is, “Is this a boy or a girl?”. Since then parents and society starts to look children in two boxes of two genders. An infant born with penis is taken as a boy and an infant born with vagina is taken as a girl. We never think about infants who are born as intersex, who have both reproductive organs. Nevermind, we completely assume that an infant born with male sex is growing up to be a man and getting sexually attracted to a woman, while an infant born with female sex is growing up to be a woman and getting sexually attracted to a man. The society is socializing with assumption.

In case of intersex children, their genitals are mutated. People want to perform so-called corrective surgeries to mutate intersex organs which are very harmful for the wellbeing of an intersex individual. When children get three months old, and parents decide their clothing. For a child with penis, it is truck toys, black jeans; while for a child with vagina, it is Barbie doll, pink dress. This is how gender roles are endorsed. Boys are given toys that require physical activity and outdoor practices and are taught to be assertive. Girls are given toys that are indoor practices. The game “Vada Kuti” also indoctrinates her that she has to be apologetic, she has to do household works and have a baby in future. This affects the way children are raised.

Then I thought in my mind, the question I had to ponder for me: As a Newa activist, how can we bring changes in Newa culture and practices in a way it breaks these gender norms? How can we remove gender segregation, gender norms and roles, cisnormality and heterosexism in Newa culture?

Then we came up to talk about definition of Sex, Gender and Sexual Orientation. Of course I was aware about these terminologies and concepts, while many participants were looking for a better clarity.

Sex: Different species are biologically differed on base of their chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs, which is called sex.

Gender(In the sexology aspect): Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity.

Gender(In the sociology aspect): Sex based social roles and construction of characteristics of different sex- such as norms, roles and relationships, which differ according to society

Sexual orientation: Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of romantic or sexual attraction (or a combination of these) to another person.

Sexuality: Sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually, involving biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviors. This includes a wide range of aspects from sexual pleasure, fantasies, arousal, preference, sexual orientation, etc.

Intersex children: Intersex people are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that isn’t distinctively male or female. This includes various kinds of sexual organs, like people with both penis and vagina, people with external penis and internal female reproductive organs, people with external vagina and internal male reproductive organs, etc.

Cisgender: A term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.

Transgender: Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex.

Heterosexual: People who are sexually and romantically attracted towards opposite sex

Homosexual: People who are sexually and romantically attracted towards same sex

Bisexual: People who are sexually and romantically attracted towards both sex

I raised a new discussion that, for transgender people, heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual categories are cisnormative and they do not fairly denote sexuality of transgender people. Therefore I also talked about men who identify as straight and attracted to transgender women, also women who identify as straight and attracted to transgender men. There is also a growing movement of men who are attracted to transwomen, called ‘Trans-Attracted’. I also said how ‘attraction to transgender people’ is also a diverse sexuality.

Introduction to terms like:

Cisnormative: An ideology where people think that only being cisgender is normal and transgender people are not normal. The idea of “gender binary” which thinks that there are only two genders.

Heteronormative: The thinking that heterosexual is the only sexual orientation and it is only normal

Transphobic: Hate against transgender people

Homophobic: Hate against homosexual people

We talked about patriarchy and how it affects women whether cis-women or transwomen. The session also talked about household work as unpaid work, and how women whole day works at home and yet their family members say, our women do not work. “Kt jasto” is seen as degraded but not “Kta jasto”. Be it in exchanging gender roles or trans people, being feminine is seen as degraded. Public spaces continuously tell women that you do not have a space here. When a woman comes to power and has economy in her hands, she is said “xora jasto”, which is also an ideology that power, economy and leadership is a manly thing. We are psychologically trained being incapable from childhood.

When it comes to transgender woman, the power associated with our own sexual organs and assumed gender has been let go after we come out as a transwomen.

Then we also talked about body image and body shaming.

Body image issues are a common problem for people in our society. There is a promotion of unrealistic body ideals based on some very confined and narrow ideology in order to define what kind of body looks beautiful and what kind of body does not look beautiful, where patriarchy plays a vital role and extreme cisnormality and transphobia intensifies it for transgender women. Indeed it is challenging for one not to get caught up in comparing, unrealistic standards which is completely based on colorism, racism, sexism and not to forget the billion dollars cosmetic industry. Body image issues brings up body shaming, where individual who do not meet the constructed standards of being beautiful are commented and mocked in various degrees for not being able to meet the ‘standards’. Body image issues and body shaming is everywhere, from the media to our peers, we have internalized the body image standards. Do you know what standards these are? A body of a woman is idealized with the weight, height, shape of their hips, shape of their lips, and shape of each and every body organ that is nearly impossible for any woman in real to have. As a result, many women experience depression, anxiety, anger and even self-loathing, to affecting an individual’s view of self, poor body image may also result in avoidance of social situations and may interfere with developing healthy social and romantic relationships. This situation intensifies to transwomen, where first of all their natural images are taken as ‘alien looks’ which in no ways fall to those standards and their transitional image into a feminine body is again judged with the same standards a biological female has to face.

Many people have lost their lives and have adverse impacts on their health, trying to create socially connoted good body images. The media has played a major role in endorsing these ideas, whether it is an advertisement, or a movie, the idea of body image has brought the culture of body shaming where we all want to find at very ideological criteria of being beautiful. Young people are increasingly feeling uncomfortable with their bodies because their bodies cannot completely meet those standards. Low self-esteem occurs when expectations of how you want your body to look don’t match up to reality. These feelings are not based on something else but actually how the whole media and society has fed into your brains and how we have socialized with the narrow connotations of being beautiful. Moreover, cosmetic industries intensely promote these beauty standards and make billion dollars out of this.

And this is the day I decided to look how much I myself was victimized and how far I have internalized the idea of body shaming. And I decided that I will break this idea starting from myself.

Another emerging issue was about gender roles for transgender people

We have not talked about gender roles of trans people. Society does not accept transgender people, but than in the circles where trans identity is accepted, there is gender roles and connotations for transgender people too. Transmen should behave like this, transwomen should be this way. There has been a set of ideology for transmen and transwomen that are stereotypes. These exist in the LGBTI circles. Nevertheless, a lot of transwomen, who are accepted by their family, get seasoned into patriarchal norms, and expected to perform the typical female associated gender roles. After this session, I even wrote a blog about this issue in the lunch break: LGBTI ‘roles and stereotypes’: An emerging issue

Exploring sexuality
There was another activity where every participant explained how they explored their sexuality. There was a new learning for me: Heterosexual cisgender women explaining how they realized that they identify as woman. I never thought that cisgender women would also need to go through the “process of realization”, because I thought since they were the gender that was assigned at birth, they wouldn’t have need to face this process. Their realization of being a heterosexual cisgender woman was based on gender based discrimination and biological differences. Some of them shared that they got this idea that women are different because they saw a penis at small age, and came to know male and female have different organs in the age where they were not informed about it. In a sense, children are told who a boy is and who a girl is, they are taught about social connotations on gender, but not informed on biological differences of male and female. Similarly, many started to feel “different” the day they hit in puberty, with breast development and menstrual cycle.

Understanding Patriarchy
Unpaid work controls formal economy. If women stopped doing household works, one can imagine how the daily routine of a family could be and how formal sectors would be affected by this. Unpaid work should be recognized, reduced, shared and redistributed among men and women.

The issue of power struggle:

One of the concerns brought in the session was ‘power struggle’. Our family structure and functioning are very much shaped with patriarchy. The question was how we can challenge these norms and extra burden on women shared, without disrupting the harmony of family.

One of the facilitators gave an example of practice. Do a “women only session” where women explain and speak about how patriarchy is affecting them and problems they have been facing. Do a “men only session” where they are oriented about problems of women. Then after both parties are separately talked, both are brought together and talked again. These practices have worked at many places, and not disrupted family harmony.

History of Patriarchy

Frederick Engels’ classic book “Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State “ (1884) identifies the source of women’s oppression in the development of class society. Frederick Engels wrote The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State with the purpose of providing a materialist analysis of how the family as we know it came to be with the rise of class society and with it, the oppression of women. In the book, writer talks about Savagery, Barbarism and Civilization. Controlling women and confining women, how this came up and patriarchy is successfully running because we all are helping.

Brainstorming session

Effects of patriarchy are on Productivity, Reproduction, Sexuality, Mobility, Resources, Family, Religions and Education. In all of these aspects patriarchy has controlled women and their decision making power in their lives.

Family tree

We divided ourselves in groups and made a family tree. In the tree we showed three generations, with what their role in the family, what are their responsibility, is what is their power level, what things do they make decision at, and many things about family member power and work distribution. Each group assumed their own kinds of family.

We realized from this activity how power is divided in family and patriarchy plays role. Moreover how things are different over age groups and generation, how women have less say and decision making roles in the family.

Movie: Miss Representation

The movie Miss Representation, documentary about women’s representation in USA media and its effects on girls and women, was shown.

How media has set up this ideal beauty standards how this is affecting overall society and creating insecurities in women and girls to compromise and commit at any extent to meet those standards
Female characters are shown objectified. Women placed in sexualized roles only.
Message on how we look at women’s sexuality
Advertisements endorse gender roles
Constant comparison of women no matter what they do and in what achieved role they come themselves.
Day 3
Nepal Era 1138 Chilla 9, i.e. 24 February 2018

Wrapping of Patriarchy

Patriarchy runs at its best because women support it. Patriarchy does not mean men. Patriarchy is a structure, a system that establishes male with superior role and controls on women. Patriarchy effects everyone, and its proprietors can be women as well.

Why do women support patriarchy?

Economic Dependence
Social norms and roles of women
Security feelings
Not being capable to deal with people and challenge it
Understanding Sexuality
The activity was to write whatever we understand about sex and sexuality

Group one presented sex as biological sex explanation of male, female and intersex genitals. Group two presented Sexuality, Body Image, Sexual orientation and social taboos. Group three presented Sexuality as sexual orientation. Group four presented Sex as intercourse: non-vaginal Sex relations between men and woman, Sex between a man and man, woman and woman, man and trans woman, woman and trans man, and every possibilities of sexual relationships.

People had their own understanding about Sex and Sexuality. These all presentations depicted various meanings a terminology can assert. But, sexuality isn’t just sexual orientation, it is a broader term. Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually. This involves biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behavior.

There was also a discussion on men who are attracted to transgender women and women who are attracted to transgender men.

A lot of discussions go on about transwomen, but despite the attempts of including diverse sexualities into discussions, the people we often miss are men who are attracted to transwomen. This is a usually asked question, who are the men attracted to transwoman. A considerable part of the male population is attracted to transgender women, whose sexuality exist in diversity. Among them are men who are attracted to transwomen only. They tend to identify as “trans-attracted men” or “trans-oriented men”. The “straight” identifying men are men who are equally attracted to both biological female and transwomen, sometimes also identify as ‘gynesexual’; or the men who are attracted more to transwomen and less to biological females; then vice versa. Also many ‘bisexual’ identifying men are attracted to transwomen, while few gay identifying men also like transwomen who are not into hormones and feminine looks but crossdressers.

Meanwhile there is also women who are attracted to transgender men.

The other discussion was why the “Other” gender category.

The term “other” was introduced by the state, in order to have an umbrella term to everyone who does not identify with stereotypical man and woman notions. This includes wide varieties of gender identities as non-binary genders. This was also a “technically easy” category for state and its organs to categorize or segregate data in need. Meanwhile there is a discussion that the word “other” is an umbrella term, yet does not specifically address our gender identity. Therefore people are also practicing a slash and the term they want to identify themselves. For instance:
Other/Transgender woman
Other/Transgender man

Being conditioned to think: Exploration of sexuality and Embracing social norms, “being conditioned” and is consistently being re-enforced by media

An example of conditioned in thinking: My parents told me that a gas cylinder is very heavy, stay away and you cannot lift it. I was so conditioned that I always thought it was as heavy as mountains. But the day I started living alone and I had to try lifting it, I realised that it wasn’t as heavy as I was conditioned to think.

Sexuality and how it is pictured in various sectors

Sexuality and media
Sexuality, Religion and Culture
Sexuality and Workplace
Sexuality and capitalism
Sexuality and media:

Sexuality and Media
Media is playing an important role to endorse gender roles. Advertisements are endorsing gender roles. A woman is shown in advertisements of washing detergents, dish wash bar and all stereotypical women works, while men are shown as doing hardwork, labour and physical activity. Serials and movies are presenting gender insensitive contents. It pictures effeminate men as highly sexual. Movies show transgender women as a bad character, villein role and very often in Bollywood movies beggars and harassers at public spaces chanting and clapping their peculiar kind. Troll and meme pages endorsing these norms. We are not unknown how Nepalese social media pages and meme pages are promoting gender insensitive contents as humor. One meme was circulating on Nepalese pages, “Wives must be beautiful from their outlook. We can improve their behavior by beating them.” This meme did not just propagate body shaming and body image issues but also promoted domestic violence against women. Similarly, pictures of people, specially women, who are considered to be “ugly” as per the narrow definitions of contemporary social images, are being put in these meme. We can see how black women are being subjected to these meme asking people to tag her boyfriend, and how colorism spreads. Similarly, transgender women are humiliated in these memes by endorsing transphobic narratives.

However, we also have examples of good practices in Nepal. There are few troll pages who are actually breaking these stereotypes through trolls. One of a Gorkhali language serial called Singha Durbar had gay characters.

Sexuality, Religion and Culture
Each major religion has developed moral codes covering issues of sexuality, morality, ethics etc. These moral codes seek to regulate as well as express the sexual interest and to influence people’s sexual activities and practices. Sexuality in religion and culture varies greatly over time and between cultures. In a Nepalese context, culture till Medieval period seems to be expressive about sexuality, which can be learned from art and architecture of the period, that kept almost no taboos of sexuality. The sexual depiction hold major part till Medieval architecture.

Meanwhile the contemporary practice is restrictive to sexuality. A wide range of sexuality is seen as a taboo. Sexuality is not just restricted but also suppressed, while heteronormality, cissexism and patriarchy plays an important role in it.

Sexuality and workplace
Women need to prove themselves every time and their abilities are always questioned despite their well performance. Assuming women are soft in nature and cannot manage leadership and tough dealing roles, women are often seen as receptionist, nurse. Open LGBTI people are not preferred. There are yet many sectors like police and army where LGBTI people are prohibited. Sexual harassment is another issue at workplace. Unequal pay in Nepal is an issue in informal sector.

Sexuality and Capitalism
The major issue we talked in this topic was cosmetic industry. Cosmetic industries are not just creating, but propagating “body standards” while the considerable population of the world is internalizing these standards, and the industry is making billion dollars by telling people that their bodies are not beautiful and strongly needs corrections. Indeed, it is challenging for one not to get caught up in comparing, unrealistic standards which is completely based on color, racism, sexism and not to forget the billion dollars cosmetic industry. Body image issues brings up body shaming, where individual who do not meet the constructed standards of being beautiful are commented and mocked in various degrees for not being able to meet the ‘standards.’ Body image issues and body shaming is everywhere, from the media to our peers, we have internalized the body image standards. Do you know what standards these are? A body of a woman is idealized with the weight, height, shape of their hips, shape of their lips, and shape of each and every body organ that is nearly impossible for any woman in real to have. While capitalists are making billion dollars out of this.

This session was ended with playing a game called Rum Sum Sum

Gender based discrimination and feminism
Body mapping

In this activity, participants were divided in groups where one participant had to sleep on paper and their body outline to be drawn. After the drawing, we had to identify which organs relate with power, shame, pleasure and pain. Each group presented in their own way and they had their own explanations of why various body organs meant these feelings. The person who slept on the paper, explained her own feelings while someone was moving pen around her body and the person drawing said her own feeling while doing so.

This activity was to understand about bodily integrity. Bodily integrity is the inviolability of the physical body and emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of people over their own bodies.

The other question asked was: We were told to choose an individual, but why did we choose a specific body? Transwomen bodies, Women with disabilities were missed up in mapping. How do we look at their bodies? Men “boast” about their sexual experiences and an ideology that having sex with more women is “masculine” and an issue of “pride” have taken up to them. But for women, it is a completely different scenario.

Equality and Equity
Equality is which all people in society have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights and equal access to certain social goods and services, that also includes concepts of health equality, economic equality and other social securities, providing equal opportunities and obligations. Equity is a concept that applies concerns of justice and fairness to social policy and people from certain background who have had been marginalized and discriminated are given more attention in order to bring them at the stage of equality. It is also called Temporal Special Measures.

We ended this day with a movie called Margarita With A Straw where an Indian teenager with cerebral palsy relocates to America for her undergraduate education and comes of age following her complex relationship with a blind girl. The experience of a woman with cerebral palsy in India and when she moved to America, while she explores her sexuality, and challenges she faced in her lives is shown.

Day 4
Nepal Era 1138 Chilla 10, i.e. 25 February 2018

Leadership Portrait
In this activity participants were asked what a leader means to them. People had their own ideals of what a leader means to them.

Our definition of leaders is inaccessible. We have too glorified the idea of being leader. We have created definition of leaders that is unreachable for most people. We don’t want leaders to say that they are not okay. Integrity, Accountability, Authenticity are very necessary and communicating with people as well. Age does not determine experience. Experience does play a role, but this also does not mean that people having initial experiences are incapable. Leadership is a progressive journey. It is all about trying to make things better. Having power or a political fame is not necessarily a leader.

In this activity, we were given various tags of our job position in an organization. We had to place ourselves on basis of our power and position in an organization, with regards to their gender affecting their resources and decision making power. There were positions from volunteers, male interns, female interns, transwoman associate, gay officer, heterosexual man director, etc. Through this activity we learned about various factors that affect our reach to power, where we are positioned from the power, the politics behind it and tussle of power. Similarly, how people in same positions have differences in reach to resources and decision making power due to their gender identity. But then now closeness with senior level staff and enmity can play a role in power dynamic of an organization.

Power analysis
The other activity was power analysis in our family structure. We created a graph of our family. In the graph, X axis was influencing power and Y axis was decision making power. We put ourselves where we were, and put where other family members were. We checked who were close to us and identified those people:

Who have power and we can influence them
Who does not have power but we can influence them
Who have power but we cannot influence them
Who neither has power nor can we influence them
Who is at the highest position in power, how much can I influence them, we pondered. If in case I cannot influence them, who can be the navigator. Navigator should be people whom I can influence and can influence those who are in power. Not every battle needs to be fought. The structures of power and influence. How do we navigate through power structure. Everywhere we cannot struggle with tussle. We need to identify where our position is and how far the highest decision is making power for you. Identify people who can reach to them and also have influence of yours.

And then we did the same activity for our organization.

We identified three sorts of power here

Visible power: We know how much power and influence those people have, and we interact with those people.

Hidden power: We do not have direct interaction with them, but their power will affect us. For example: State and Policy Makers.

Invisible Power: This is not a tangible power. For example: When we touch our neck, we blow our fingers. Why do we do it? This is an invisible power.

Intersectional Leadership
In this activity every participant were given tags. Every participant had their own tags like High caste Bhrahmin man, Dalit ward member, Transgender refugee sex worker, Businessman, Businessman’s wife, etc. We all stood up in the same horizontal line and facilitators said a sentence, where is applicable to us as the tags we had, we moved two steps forward, otherwise two steps behind. The sentences were as “I can travel without fear”, “I can easily access to health services”, etc. At the end of this activity, some of us were in the front, while some of us were in the very back.

This activity taught about how various social inequalities play role in marginalization and privilege. Similar to this activity, in American context is a video here. It isn’t just one thing that plays role in being marginalized, it is the knit of all social problems of the society. There isn’t one reason of marginalization. We need to de-construct the reasons of discrimination and privilege. In some aspects, we can be privileged; in some aspects we can be marginalized. People might have multi-dimensional discrimination and multi-dimensional privilege.

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in a paper as a way to help explain the oppression of African-American women. The feminism in US was being the white ladies group and women who are marginalized by both gender and color were not being talked. Crenshaw says,”Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.”

Power and Feminism
Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.

We discussed how feminism is misunderstood by layperson. There are many myths around feminism like Anti-men, Celibate, Anti-marriage, Ghar vaadne, Rude, Having boys cut hair, Against having a baby or women are only feminists.

Feminist principles

Feminist Therapist Judith Worell’s four Principles in a feminist empowerment:

Personal is Political
Communal perspectives are valued
The personal is political: The personal experiences of women are rooted in their political situation and gender inequality. An opening of personal affairs matters to political analysis and discussion.

Intersectionality: It is an analytic framework which attempts to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society and considers that the various aspects of society such as class, race, sexual orientation, disability, color, ethnicity, nationality, and other several aspects, do not exist separately from each other but are complexly interwoven. The experience of being a dalit woman cannot be understood in terms of being dalit and of being a woman considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.

Equality: Gender equality with rights of women. Acknowledging the existence of patriarchy, feminism advocates for women rights to have equality.

Communal perspectives are valued: Emotions and feelings associated with femininity are not barriers for women.

Waves of feminism

The feminist movement is arguably too vast and protean to package into neat, ideologically distinct boxes, and yet, the idea of sequential “waves” is useful when analyzing its development.

First Wave Feminism: (1830’s – early 1900’s): The first wave talked about women’s fight for equal contract and property rights. Often taken for granted, women in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, realized that women must first gain political power including the right to vote to bring about change. The political agenda expanded to issues concerning sexual, reproductive and economic matters.

Second Wave Feminism (1960’s-1980’s): Broadening the debate Coming off the heels of World War II, the second wave of feminism focused on the workplace, sexuality, family and reproductive rights. It spread across the Western world very quickly and aimed to gain greater equality for women with men by giving them more rights than just voting rights, including rights on domestic issues such as clothing and in employment. The second wave feminism ended with a dispute views on pornography and sexuality.

Third Wave Feminism (1990’s to 2008): It focused on embracing individualism and diversity. Some of the most important values of the third wave are gender equality, identity, language, sex positivity, body positivity, ending violence against women, fixing the media’s image of women, and environmentalism. The fight to fix the way linguistics are used to portray women in our society. The issue of intersectionality and LBT women also appeared.

Fourth Wave Feminism (2008 to present day): Fourth-wave feminism is defined by technology, according to Kira Cochrane, and is characterized particularly by the use of social media and blogs such as Feministing to challenge misogyny and further gender equality. This talks about justice for women and opposition to sexual harassment and violence against women.

Liberal Feminism
Radical Feminism
Socialist Feminism
Cultural Feminism
Black Feminism
Native Feminism
Indigenous Feminism
French Feminism
Multi-racial Feminism
Lesbian Feminism
Bisexual Feminism
LBT Feminism
Post-colonial Feminism
Third world Feminism
Opportunity optimization and local resources utilization

In this activity, we were divided into groups where Ujyalo Foundation provides One Thousand Rupees investment money. We have to think about a business plan that invests the money, fully utilize it, create local products and earn profit.

The activity was performed on every Women Leadership Summit. The profit money earned in this activity would be a funding for scholarships in the next summit. We had to use local resources for creating our products, and do something that the local people can also learn from. Our facilitators shared a story of summit in Pokhara, where one group kept a stall of “Vogate sadheko”. The other shopkeeper was very happy to see it was running business and even he started doing the same in his shop. In this way we also had to leave some mark on local people.

Every group were brainstorming their idea. The questions to ponder were: How will you use the investment money? What is the strength of your group? How will you plan the budget? How feasible is it? We also went for a community assessment to find out things Seven groups had to make business plan of our own. We had to invest all of one thousand rupees and use local resources. Each group planned accordingly and presented what we wanted to do. We listed what materials we want to buy from our invested money and what is the probable profit for us in this program. The team I was in decided to click pictures of local/foreign tourists and print it out with a mark saying “Chitwan” and sell it to people for their memories. We also went out and asked people if someone was already doing this or not, but no one here was doing it.

Day 5
Nepal Era 1138 Chilla 11, i.e. 26 February 2018

Business Startup Plan
All seven groups were ready with their plan and presentation. We presented in front of everyone and starting from 10 am, we had four hours to complete this task. The group I was in named ourselves “Rush a Photo”. There were groups like “Supercool Lassi Wali”, “Ms Power”, “Sis Power”, etc

The activity was full of energy. Everyone was doing their business plan. The locals were very excited about this, they created a friendly environment. Groups had their own strategies to have their products sell.

This activity not only taught us entrepreneur skills, but also taught us how we can optimise local resources in limited budget and time frame and make profit. The spirit of group work was learned, and we learned what challenges does come and how to overcome these challenges during our business. Similarly, co-operation with the locals and leaving a positive mark on them was an important part.

(Note: The other day, locals were excited if we were doing it again. Many people asked if their daughters could also be a part of such programs.)

Evolution Game
In this activity, we divided ourselves into amoeba, frogs, and apes. In the game, amoeba had to act in certain way, frogs in certain way and apes in certain way. We got divided then mixed amongst. Then, we had to find another partner from similar species, like an amoeba finds an amoeba, frog finds a frog and ape finds an ape. After we find another partner, we have to play Scissor-Paper-Rock game. The one who wins evolves to next level and the one who looses devolves to the lower level. The levels were Egg-Amoeba-Frog-Ape-Human. When two amoeba meet and play scissor-paper-rock, the one who wins turns into frog and the one who looses turns into egg. When two apes meet and play scissor-paper-rock, the one who wins turns into humans and the one who looses turns into frog. This was the game.

The game taught us the pace of progress. Different people have different pace to reach success in their lives. Their pace is defined by many factors.

Writing Skills
We did a daily dump activity. On a paper, we had to write non-stop without lifting pen, for one minute, whatever came in our mind. Then we did the same to three minutes. Then we did the same to five minutes. We explained what came in our mind while writing, how we were able to continue non-stop in thinking for the same topic or we changed the topic in the middle. Then again we repeated the activity and now we had to write about what is in front of us. Some of us had very romanticist presentation while some of us had random presentation.

Day 6
Nepal Era 1138 Chilla 12, i.e. 27 February 2018

The day begun with many of the participants going for a jungle safari, with fresh and exciting moments in the jungle of Sauraha.

Accountable Leadership
In this activity, we divided ourselves into groups where we discussed what it meant by, integrity, accountability, nepotism and negotiation.

Integrity: Integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions, who can stand in opposition to hypocrisy.

Accountability: It means being answerable and liable, and the expectation of account-giving. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgement and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

Nepotism: It is the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially in context of jobs and positions. This is one of the biggest problem of Nepal. People who are in power and position prefer pulling their own family circles, kins and relatives into power and position, irrespective of their qualification and just because they are one’s family circles, they shall not have to go through the process of getting hired as other candidates applying for position do; or despite unmet qualifications for the posts or having more deserving candidate, a family or relative is chosen. This means a politician providing tickets to one’s partner, children, kin, etc. This does not mean someone hiring their relative for a job is practising nepotism, but whether a job candidate is their relative or not, both should go equal process and same fair selection.

Negotiation: Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences by which compromise or agreement is reached while overcoming a dispute in any disagreement, individuals understandably aim to achieve the best possible outcome for their position. The principles of fairness, seeking mutual benefit and maintaining a relationship in win-win position are the keys to a successful outcome.

We created a role play where we showed these all situations. These are the features of an accountable leadership.

Effective communication
We had a game of a driver and truck. The person being truck had to tie their eyes, and the person being driver that to put hands on their shoulders and direct them throughout the garden. In this activity, drivers could change their trucks and instruct their trucks how to move.

After the activity, drivers and trucks shared their story being so. This was learning effective communication.

In the conversation appeared the topic of consent. Did we ask the trucks if they were comfortable in being touched in their shoulders? We need to learn the concept of consent and respect “people’s spaces”. Also we need to learn about the concept withdrawal of consent.

Appreciative inquiry
The skill of talking, where you tend to be appreciative and ask for things that are not done. For example: “I think it would have been better if you arrived a bit earlier” than “Why are you late today?”

Empathetic communication
The skill of being constructively critical, taking accountability about the gaps in yourself and communicating. This needs to be time contextual. For example:
“I didn’t knew how to do this, therefore I could not do it”(Non-empathetic)
“I acknowledge that I could not do this activity properly due to my knowledge constrains, I shall do it the other way.”(Empathetic)

Complementing communication
This is a skill where we do “sandwiching” and complementing information. For example:
“You have made many mistakes. Can you do it again?” (Non-complementing)
“The article you’ve wrote is very nice and understandable, I think editing some grammatical errors could make it better.” (Complementing)

Write emails in appreciative and empathetic way. Be logical during communication have specific time frame. Keep it simple at your end.. Use right medium of communication. Be mindful how we frame the language. Be mindful of language and sentence structure.

Group activity
In this activity there three groups. In each group, there was First Runner, Second Runner, Observer and Executive. The first runner could read what the facilitators gave them in a paper. The second runner could ask the first runner what she read and could explain it to the Executive. The Executive could perform what second runner said. The observer could only observe what is happening around.

This activity was for learning on effective communication amongst people in various position. We did not bother communicating properly. These was a sense of urgency, when not told the activity was urgent. There was no active listening. We were not processing information, we were reacting to it. We were making assumptions ourselves. We were not asking questions and taking clear instructions to execute. We need to know what we do not know.

This activity resembles that usually happens in organization between staffs various positions.

We talked about the idea of dispersed authority.

“Re-culture” रे culture. We are not sure and assertive. We add “re” behind our sentences, which does not make a sense of assertion and accountability on our words.

“Bujhnus na”: ‘Please understand us’ is the common narrative of making unjust compromises. The person who is understanding or who is applying ‘bujhus na’ is actually the person with less power/authority.

Painting and action plan
We painted on a white cloth about the summit.
We made our action plans for coming six months.

The last activity
In this last activity of this residential summit, we had a round table stay and candles were lit, everyone closed their eyes and memorized what they did for all six days. We shared our own stories of how we came here, what biases did we carry before coming here and how we overcomed our biasness and what we shall do further. Around 11:30 pm we all ended the residential part of the summit.

At last,
The summit was quite intensive and very informative. The sessions were involving and participatory while carrying new learning from summit and people, we moved back to Kathmandu. #LeadershipBeyondBindaries #WLS #WLS2018

This blog was first published at

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