Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Beautiful Women of Chetana in Pokhara, Nepal

In many societies in Asia, women have always been the underprivileged group. This is especially so in male-dominated societies that heed to the caste system. Such is the case in Nepal. Women are discriminated against and underrepresented in many sectors of Nepali society. UNICEF figures indicate that only 65 percent of adult females in Nepal gain literacy. No education means a very limited source of livelihood, if any at all. Even if employed outside their homes, Nepali women are paid 25 percent less than that of their male counterparts and are traditionally relegated to more traditional, low-level jobs.

Chetana Women Skill Development Project, Pokhara, Nepal

Tara Timilshina, Nepali mother and wife, decided one day that this has to change. After surviving cancer and experiencing the worst of discrimination, she knew she had to do something towards women empowerment in her country. This was how the Chetana Women Skill Development Project was born. The Chetana Women Skill Development Project is a non-profit foundation registered with the Nepali government since 2008 advocating women empowerment through skill building and education. Through the foundation, Tara trains and educates fellow Nepali women who would otherwise have no access to any training and education of any sort. Nepali women, who often travel long hours from the rural villages of the Himalayan foothills to the lakeside city of Pokhara in Central Nepal, are provided free literacy training as well as vocational courses on weaving, dyeing, sewing, and business management.

Chetana Women Skill Development Project, Pokhara, Nepal
The beautiful Tara Timilshina, founder
of the Chetana Women Skill Development Project

There are presently 22 Nepali women under training and employ in the small, rented shack that serves as the foundation's headquarters, production center, and sales outlet right by Pokhara's Phewa Lake. Operating under the motto "skillful women in every society," the foundation promotes women empowerment by creating livelihood for Nepali women, enough for them to support themselves and their respective families. After their three-month training, these women are committed to work for the project for a minimum of two years. Should they decide to create a business of their own, the project will help them start it up.

Chetana Women Skill Development Project, Pokhara, Nepal
Weaving and sawing are done right inside the small shack the foundation calls
their headquarters situated beside Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal.


Chetana Women Skill Development Project, Pokhara, Nepal

Chetana Women Skill Development Project, Pokhara, Nepal
Bags, beanies, scarfs, and all manner of hand-woven
products are sold at the foundation's headquarters.


Chetana Women Skill Development Project, Pokhara, Nepal

We learned about the Chetana Women Skill Development Project and its noble cause towards women empowerment from a fellow trekker when we were trekking in the beautiful Annapurna region north of Pokhara. We figured, we were going to buy gifts and souvenirs in Pokhara anyway, might as well do it at Chetana. There, our tourist money will go into supporting the project and perhaps training and educating more Nepali women. When we got to the foundation's headquarters, we were fortunate enough to meet Tara herself. She toured us around and told us about her little project, her little contribution to women empowerment in her country. I bought a lovely bag to send back home for my mom and wished more power to these Nepali women. We went back to exploring the lovely, laid-back, lakeside town of Pokhara knowing somehow our tourist money went into something helpful and constructive. It's good when tourism and advocacy go hand in hand like that.

Lovely Lakeside Laidback Pokhara, Nepal
The lovely, laid-back, lakeside town of Pokhara in Central Nepal

Lovely Lakeside Laidback Pokhara, Nepal
Boatman prepares his livelihood on the shores of Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal.


* Full Disclosure: I or WalkFlyPinoy.com is in no way associated to nor paid by the Chetana Women Skill Development Project. I just felt this was something worth writing about.

** For more information on the Chetana Women Skill Development Project, do visit www.weavingforlife.org. If you yourself want to volunteer your time to the foundation's noble cause, or you are just simply looking to buy souvenirs from Pokhara, do stop by the foundation's headquarters. See map:



Have you encountered similar women empowerment charities and/or foundations in your travels? What were they and what were their causes?


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