She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
As a single woman seeking higher education and working for the improvement of women’s lives, Jagan Suba Gurung stands out in her Gurung community village. Her involvement in women’s empowerment and community development has made her an icon for societal alteration in a largely conservative social setting.
It is said: As a single woman promoting higher education and working to improve women’s lives, Jagan Suba Gurung has become a challenging icon for change in a traditionally conservative social setting.
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In 1990, when Jagan Suba Gurung began to work with women in her community, women did not generally step out of their homes in the evening and nights to attend adult literacy classes. It was an uphill task for her to launch such revolutionary programs in her village, Ghndruk, a Gurung hamlet located in the Annapurna Conservation Area, a protected area rich in environmental and cultural diversity.
However, much has changed in over a decade: Jagan’s work, which involves appraisals, home visits, and organizing meetings and adult literacy classes, has made a crucial difference:
- women have availed of educational opportunities, and are able to make critical decisions about their lives; children’s health and levels of education have improved;
- their mothers are today well aware of the value of nutritious food and reproductive health issues, and have contributed hugely to cleaning up their villages through clean-up campaigns;
- women have been encouraged to send their children to daycare centers and to school, and have become involved in nature conservation;
- organic farming and filtering water to make it potable are new activities that have entered their lives.
Jagan’s own life is a case-study in how things have changed. Apart from her other work, this dedicated grassroots woman now runs a guesthouse along with her sister and sister-in-law. She has done her intermediate course in economics from an institution affiliated to Nepal’s Tribhuvan University, and is in the middle of a Bachelors degree in hotel management from Pokhara University. Jagan has been invited several times to give talks and presentations abroad, and has done so with considerable aplomb.
It has taken a long time for the male elite of her community to recognize her achievements. As a woman social worker, she also finds herself targeted by Maoists, since she is outspoken, confident and questioning in a conflict-ridden environment.
Nepal’s conservative Gurung community is surrounded by dogmatic Maoist ideologues who have little concern for those who question the rationale for constant conflict. Development, including women and children’s health and education, has taken a consequent beating.
As a single woman seeking higher education and working for the improvement of women’s lives, Jagan Suba Gurung stands out in her Gurung community village. Her involvement in women’s empowerment and community development has made her an icon for societal alteration in a largely conservative social setting. (1000peacewomen).
The Himalayas: Fit for returning heroes;
Tewa Times, 29 pages.
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