WOW Kathmandu is bringing together women from across South Asia. Read below to know more about the contributors from South Asia and further afield participating in WOW Kathmandu.
WOW Kathmandu 2017 South Asian and International Contributors
Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala is the first Sri Lankan, and first Sri Lankan woman to summit Mount Everest (8,848m/29,030ft), a double record she achieved at 5:03am on 21 May 2016. She is a mountaineering professional and women’s rights advocate. Her passion for adventure is balanced with her passion for gender equality. On many occasions over the past decade, locally, regionally, as well as globally, Jayanthi has been invited to make presentations on the status of women in Sri Lanka: this has included advocating for women’s rights at the United Nations. Jayanthi is currently serving as the first ever Goodwill Ambassador for Women's Rights for the Ministry of Women's Affairs. She is also the Goodwill Ambassador for Think Equal - a global education programme that aims to teach social and emotional intelligence to young children. Jayanthi holds a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies from the University of Sussex, UK.
Jehan Ara is the President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA). She is a motivator, an entrepreneur, a social activist and a strong propagator of extending the power and use of Information and Communication Technologies beyond pure traditional business, to empower and enable communities.
Ambassador Nasim Ferdous
Nasim Ferdous is a former Bangladeshi career diplomat. She joined foreign service in 1977 and is the first women to enter in foreign service in Bangladesh. She served as an ambassador to Indonesia from 2002 to 2006 and is also an executive director of Bangladesh Alliance for Women Leadership and chairperson of Home Economics Association.
Sonia Bashir Kabir
Educated and trained in Silicon Valley, Sonia lived in Northern California for 20 years. After completing her MBA, she worked in the Valley for Fortune 100 companies (Sun Microsystems & Oracle), startups & in the financial district. Her expertise include strategic planning & growth, sales execution, financial management, team building and change management.
Sonia is currently the Managing Director for Microsoft Bangladesh, Board Director and Co Founder of D Money (Fin-Tech start up), Vice President and Co-Founder of Bangladesh Women in Technology (BWIT). Sonia is also the Founder President of TiE Dhaka and has served in the Boards of the American International School, Dhaka, Bangladesh Employers Federation, Bangladesh Cricket Board (Women's Wing), Abahani Women's Games Development Committee and Women Entrepreneur's Association.
Besides co-founding an IT firm - Syntec, Sonia has served as the Country Director of Dell Bangladesh, Director Business Development for South East Asia, New Emerging Markets in Microsoft and Chief Operating Officer for Aamra Technologies Ltd.
Sonia is a national athlete; she has played for Bangladesh National Volleyball team and Bangladesh National Cricket team.
Jude Kelly is the founder of Women of the World Festival and Creative Director of Southbank London. She founded Solent People's Theatre, a touring company, in 1976, and was artistic director of the Battersea Arts Centrefrom 1980 to 1985. In 1986, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. She became the founding director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 1990–2002, where as Artistic Director and then CEO she established it as an acknowledged centre for excellence. As the Artistic Director, she sat on the National Advisory Committee for Culture, Creativity and Education (NACCCE), led by Ken Robinson, that in 1999 wrote the All Our Futures report which led to significant government investment in young people's creative and cultural education. n 2010 she founded the Women of the World Festival that celebrates the achievements of women and girls as well as looking at the obstacles they face, and which is now an annual international event.
Nidhi Goyal is a Mumbai-based activist committed to changing the lives of women and girls with disabilities. She is the Sexuality and Disability Program Director at the non-profit Point of View where she has researched and co-authored a pioneering online initiative www.sexualityanddisability.org— a comprehensive online resource on disability, gender, sexuality and violence.
Gayatri Buragohain is the founder of Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT), a pioneering organization that empowers women using technology. FAT’s programs include a Tech Education Center for teenage girls in a New Delhi slum to explore technology and social issues using the internet and multimedia, workshops for all levels of women, and WeWIT, an online campaign that showcases female techie success stories and is working towards connecting female computing students with mentors and showcases female techie success stories. FAT also collaborates with women’s rights organizations to incorporate technology in their work.
Mary Akrami is the Executive Director of the Afghan Women's Skills Development Center (AWSDC), the organization established as a first shelter for women at risk in 2003. Ms.Akrami envisioned an equitable and peaceful society through AWSDC and initiated the community based peace councils (shuras) in different provinces of Afghanistan. These peace councils became the only platform where women were able to find an opportunity to engage in conflict resolution mechanisms at the local levels and that was the start of women’s inclusion in community based peace building. Ms.Akrami’s organization has been working with other civil society organizations engaged in peace building and conflict resolution programs and provided them with trainings and mentoring on mechanisms on women’s engagement in political and community based peace building.
Negin Khpalwak is an acclaimed music conductor from Afghanistan and leading Afghanistan’s 1st All-Female Orchestra. At the age of 20-year-old Negin Khpalwak leads the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women at the Afghanistan National Institute for Music that plays both Western and Afghan musical instruments.
With an experience, in the development sector, panning to almost 16 years, Ms. Anjum Naheed from Pakistan has a body of work that covers a wide range of thematic areas pertaining to social and community development. From capacity building of women in different projects to forming women based community organizations to conducting awareness trainings on Health, Education, and Gender to creating awareness regarding basic constitutional rights; Ms. Anjum Naheed is striving tirelessly to achieve her vision of one day living in a society where ‘involvement of women in development of the society is equal to any other gender’. Ms. Anjum Naheed’s goal is to develop an all-encompassing society, where the access and control on resources and the benefits are equally distributed among the members of society. In a society such as Pakistan, where gender disparity is considerable it is important to have figures such as Ms. Anjum Naheed, to be empowered, as they prove to be a role model for the younger generation of women to work towards a more gender balanced society where women have equal rights and women are active participants in all walks of life.