In Eastern Nepal, women like Samikshya Limbu are forging new pathways in their communities. Although Samikshya may not have studied beyond the tenth grade, she is a big advocate for girls’ higher education and opportunity in her village. Her own unfulfilled dreams drew her to a life of community involvement: leading an initiative to bolster maternal wellbeing, supporting agricultural prosperity, and ultimately, finding her own confidence. As we celebrate International Women’s Day this month, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating the power, vision, and resilience of women like Samikshya in dZi’s partner communities.
Originally from Chaurikharka, Sankhuwasabha District, Samikshya married a man from one of dZi’s partner communities, Khatamma, Bhojpur District, and moved to his village. Now 29 years old, she has two sons – ages six and nine. Though she got married when she was young, she advises the women and girls in her neighborhood to pursue their career before tying the knot and starting a family. For Samikshya, her early marriage led her to make many compromises and she regrets discontinuing her formal education after marriage. She hopes to make up for her missed opportunities by engaging in community activities and continuing her education through non-traditional means.
Before joining the village’s mothers’ health group six years ago, Samikshya was timid and couldn’t speak confidently, let alone conduct meetings or facilitate discussions. Samikshya remembers that, “earlier, I was new and was very uncomfortable speaking to other women. Slowly, I began asking questions about things I didn’t understand and began putting forth my experiences as a mother of two. This gradually made me confident. Now, I do not have any hesitation to conduct meetings anywhere.”
Samikshya is now the chairperson of the mothers’ group, and organizes a monthly meeting where women in the village gather, listen to health seminars from female community health volunteers, share their knowledge and skills, and facilitate community conversations.
The group has also helped teach financial self-sufficiency, even organizing a program that provides low-interest loans to women in need. “We believe in transparency and accountability when it comes to financial transactions in our group. Similarly, we also got to learn the fundamentals of accounting and investment,” says Samikshya. Her friends often take loans from the group if they want to start a new business, learn new skills, or need help with a family financial crisis. Samikshya herself borrowed money when she had to take her son to a regional hospital for a minor operation.
Encouraged by her experience in the mother’s health group, Samikshya recently became the treasurer of Jagarak Farmers’ Group – an agricultural extension group organized by dZi. Though working with hundreds of farmers’ group members is more challenging than facilitating a group of 40 women, her previous leadership experience has shown her that she can handle her new responsibilities with dedication and commitment.
Agriculture is the way of life in Khatamma. A majority of farmers were subsistence farming before dZi’s agriculture program introduced new farming techniques and crop varieties to boost production and profit. What was once a practice of self-sufficiency, is now a path to prosperity. Samikshya has noticed that, “especially women are becoming more involved in the group and learning knowledge, skills, and techniques in farming. Most of us are already improving our household income by selling vegetables and cash crops.”
Samikshya says that she has been able to pursue her interests because she has a very supportive partner who takes care of their children and household chores whenever she has to attend a meeting or lead a program. She understands not everyone has these opportunities, as the patriarchal culture and traditional gender roles are a living reality in her community. That’s why she encourages every girl she knows to pursue their education and pave their way towards self-determination.
Samikshya takes pride in her work – and for good reason. As a chairperson of the mothers’ health group, she has overseen the construction of a new building and bathroom facilities, and increased access to healthcare for women and children in her community. And in her new role with the Jagarak Farmers’ Group, she is excited to introduce sustainable agriculture practices in her village and strengthen the local food system. Through her local activism, Samikshya is committed to helping women and girls find new avenues for economic independence and personal fulfillment.
Thank you, Samikshya, for all you do to make your community a better place!