WOWKTM 2018, panel discussions were focused on bringing in women who have made unconventional choices in their lives and made a change. This year the panel also included young girls, which was very much appreciated by the audience. The intention to bring women, young women and people who identify themselves as women was acknowledged and discussion around sexuality was considered to be very interesting and enriching by the audience. The issues that South Asian delegates spoke about also highlighted the fact that the issues affecting women is similar across border. 

The workshops were curated with a viewpoint of how women can claim their rights, spaces in a patriarchal society like Nepal. From discussing and getting tools on how to travel alone to talking about property rights and visioning our women hero made participants reflect that change is possible and also empowered them with concrete tools on how to create and fight for that change.

 Despite being a women festival, it was well taken by men and women from different strata of the society. 

List of our panel discussions, speakers and mentors:

Unconventional choice Girl Power Women and sexuality Women and skills Pick of the fest Moderators
Rekha Thapa Bipana Sharma Rukshana Kapali Shyam Badan Shrestha Loonibha Tuladhar Sumeera Shrestha
Ani Choying Drolma Panchamaya Tamang Dr Madhurima Bhadra Ashmina Ranjit Fearless Collective Mandira Maharjan
Mira Rai Sara Pyakurel Laxmi Ghalan Sunita Nhemaphuki Word Warriors  
Gulali Ismail Shanti Nepali Sristi KC Selima Ahmed    

Rekha Thapa

Rekha Thapa is one of the most celebrated actresses of modern Nepali cinema. She has acted in over 200 films, often playing strong female characters in her movies. Ms. Thapa is also known as a producer and an active politician, having been associated with the CPN (Maoist) and more recently with Rashtriya Prajatarnta Party. She is a philanthropist and an advocate against child marriage in Nepal.

Ani Choying Drolma

Ani Choying Drolma was born to Tibetan refugee parents and instituted into the Nagi Gompa nunnery in her early life. She rose from a teenage nun to an international music star. Her prolific career spans over 12 albums, recognition for philanthropic work and subsequent role as Nepal’s first UNICEF national ambassador. She is the founder of the Nun’s Welfare Foundation and the Arya Tara Boarding School which provide free education to young nuns from poor backgrounds.

Mira Rai

Mira Rai is an award winning trail and sky runner who has won numerous international competitions. In 2017, she was recognized as the Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. Hailing from eastern Nepal, her story begins as a young cadet of the Maoist insurgency, walking long distances over rough terrain during her time with the movement. Her inspirational story and humble beginnings have inspired many young women and girls in Nepal.

Gulalai Ismail

Gulalai Ismail is a Pakistani human rights activist and chairperson of Aware Girls as well as the Seeds of Peace network. She has continuously championed the subject of promoting peace in Pakistan through women’s empowerment. She is the recipient of the International Humanist of the Year Award and the Foundation Chirac Peace Prize

Bipana Sharma

Bipana Sharma is a 19 year old child rights activist. She is the recipient of the first Glocal Teen Hero Award – 2015. She is also a recipient of the Asian Girls Award.

Panchamaya Tamang

Panchamaya Tamang is the women’s national climbing champion. She is currently 17 years old and continues to represent Nepal in international sports competitions.

Sara Pyakurel

Sara Pyakurel is a 20 year old politician associated with the Bebeksheel-Sajha Party.

Shanti Nepali

Shanti Nepali is a teenage musician and the lead of Dissonance, an all-girl band.

Rukshana Kapali

Rukshana Kapali is a transgender activist focusing on rights of ethnic minorities, focusing on linguistic heritage and the systemic oppression of indigenous and native populations of Nepal. She is currently pursuing her higher studies and hopes to preserve and promote the many languages native to Nepal.

Dr. Madhurima Bhadra

Dr. Madhurima Bhadra is a public health expert working in Nepal and other parts of Asia. She is a faculty member at the Institute of Crisis Management Studies, Nepal. Her experiences vary from community desntistry, primary health care, refugee health care, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and occupational health. Additionally, she is also known for her work as a radio host working with several media outlets in the past decades.

Laxmi Ghalan

Laxmi Ghalan is a social worker and human rights defender. She is the President of Mitini Nepal, a non-governmental organization that works for social justice and equality of LGBT community in Nepal.

Sristi KC

Sristi KC lost her vision in her early teens. As a visually impaired but ambitious young woman, she persevered and excelled in her studies and became a role model for others. She founded Blind Rocks Nepal to improve conditions for the visually impaired in Nepal

Shyam Badan Shrestha

Shyam Badan Shrestha is a pioneer working in the field of producing and marketing handicrafts with natural and sustainable fibers native to Nepal. She is the founder of Nepal Knotcraft Centre and a founding member of the National Resource Development Centre. Throughout her career, Ms. Shrestha has studied and cross-pollinated traditional skills and knowledge to contemporarize fibre-based crafts.

Ashmina Ranjit

Ashmina Ranjit is an interdisciplinary “artivist” who works internationally on themes related to cultural roles, social gendering, sexuality, human rights and other pressing issues. She is the founder of the LASANAA and the Nexus Art Hub. She is regarded as one of the foremost Nepali contemporary artist active today.

Sunita Nhemaphuki

Sunita Nhemaphuki is an entrepreneur who is the current CEO of R&D Innovative Solutions, which focuses on the agriculture sector.

Selima Ahmed

Selima Ahmed is a Bangladeshi businessperson. She is the Vice Chairperson of Nitol-Niloy Group and the founder and President of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She serves as board member of state-owned Janata Bank Limited and is a former board member of Sonali Bank Limited. In 2014 she got Oslo Business for Peace Award for best contribution in Business. She is a Global Ambassador of The International Alliance for Women and a Course Teacher of MBA class in University of Dhaka.

Fearless Collective

Fearless Collective is a movement of participative storytelling that creates create alternative, people-led narratives. Members of the Collective from India and Pakistan shared about their Fearless Futures toolkit which charts a map to a feminist future.

Loonibha Tuladhar

Loonibha Tuladhar is a TV and stage actor known for her comic routines. She is currently associated with the Shilpee Theatre, Battisputali.

Word Warriors

Word Warriors are a Kathmandu-based group of young poets leading the spoken word movement in Nepal. They have been performing, conducting events, competitions and workshops across the country sharing the platform that spoken word provides for youth expression and voice.