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Women LEAD Nepal (WLEAD)

To provide young Nepali women with skills, support, and opportunities to become local and national level change-makers and effective leaders

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What problem does your innovation solve?

Modern day Nepal is still influenced by a Hindu culture of patriarchy that favors high-caste males when it comes to education, opportunities, and positions of power. A post-war nation still recovering from the April 2015 earthquakes, it is crucial for disadvantaged groups to actively participate in the nation’s development process. WLEAD enables young women and girls to become effective leaders who can contribute to changing their school, community, and society on a local and national level.

Explain your innovation.

Currently, WLEAD runs the LEAD Course where girls are given opportunities in education, training, and leadership. During the year-long program, 30 girls in 12th grade are educated on important skills not offered in traditional schools. The course enables them to learn skills such as public speaking, conflict management, goal setting, and time management while preparing them for the next phase of their lives. LEADers are also required to take on positions of teacher/facilitator through the four-month School Leadership Program where the girls pair up to facilitate workshops for 9th-grade students. Analysis of findings from the program shows statistically significant improvement in the girls' perception of themselves, their leadership capabilities, and their understanding of equality. After graduating, each alumn has the exposure, experience, and capacity to take what she has learned from the course and teach others. She is then able to travel locally or to remote, difficult to access, or high conflict regions of the country and offer nonformal education to students, especially girls. This is a valuable and effective way to spread essential education and skill development while encouraging women's empowerment in Nepal.

Who benefits?

Every year, 30 girls in 12th grade (age 17-19) benefit directly from the LEAD course and through them, an additional 300+ students (ages 14-15) benefit through the School Leadership Program. By developing additional long-term programs to further empower women, more women aged 18-25 could receive training and join over 200+ existing WLEAD alumni. WLEAD would continue to target girls who come from government school background, who are ethnic minorities, who are low caste, and who are not permanent residents of Kathmandu (although they would need to be based in Kathmandu for the duration of the program). After taking the course, each graduate has the potential to affect more lives as they take what they have learned and continue teaching these essential skills in regions where women and girls are not given proirity in education or leadership.

How is your innovation unique?

WLEAD is one of few NGOs in Nepal investing in long-term programs focused on leadership for school aged girls. While many organizations focus on scholarships, skill development, and income generation, there are no programs catered to the professional development of women in the country. WLEAD's approach is additionally unique as it targets a demographic of girls who are based in Kathmandu but who come from a diverse range of castes, ethnicities, regions, religions, and low to mid-range income. Since many young men leave as migrant workers, the nation is relying more on women and there is a need for women to be able to provide effective leadership. Having survived 10 years of civil war, still healing from the 2015 earthquakes, and still struggling with large-scale political, economic, and social instability, utilizing women and putting them in positions of leaderships could be the most effective ways of ensuring the New Nepal is progressive, peaceful, and inclusive.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Provided the LEAD course has been a success, there is certainly a need to establish comparable programs for the alumni as they progress through college and then into professional life. While the LEAD course includes a comprehensive curriculum with basics on a wide range of topics, it is uncertain what the next level courses should entail. Should they be a more advance LEAD course or should they be sector specific? How can the next phase continue to build on leadership skills so more women can join the WLEAD community and benefit from the one of a kind program? What new topics need to be included which would be valuable to the communities our graduates travel to then teach?

Tell us more about you.

WLEAD is an NGO with a vision of a better world where women co-create the future. It is run by a small team of women all below the age of 30. It differs from other organizations and institutions as it is youth-driven, locally led, and inclusive. WLEAD does not have affiliations with any of the above-listed countries.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Other (please specify in next question)

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Having survived a civil war (1996-2006), Nepal may not be in immediate danger of armed conflict but it is far from stable. Since the war ended, the nation has experienced complex social, political, and economic uncertainty as power struggle continues to prevail in a country with shifting dynamics. The 2015 earthquakes provided further challenges to the development of the nation. Through WLEAD, girls would be able to travel and teach anywhere in the country under just about any circumstances.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

By default of Nepal being a centralized country, the organization focuses its efforts on utilizing and maximizing on events, resources, and connections which are only available in the capital city of Kathmandu. For this reason, the course is only available there, but anyone who had graduated would have the capacity and support to take what they've learned and continue to teach anywhere in the country--be it their hometown, the capital, or areas affected by natural disasters.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

WLEAD relies on a loose network of individuals and local connections to help provide and facilitate WLEAD trainings. It works closely with about 15 government and private schools for the School Leadership Program. WLEAD would most likely rely on alumni for input and for support in developing new programs.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

WLEAD has been running the LEAD course since 2011 and prides itself on the excellence of the programs. The team has been making annual improvements to the LEAD course while adding providing other opportunities (such as the Solo Traveler Competition, Change Marker Award, and alumni events) for the alumni so they remain active and engaged with the WLEAD community.

Innovation Maturity

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Organization Location

Kathmandu, Nepal


How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

Originally, our application focused on expanding the existing LEAD Course, now we are looking to develop a similar course for another age group with an essential component of having to travel to various regions of the country in order to educate others on important topics not included in formal academia. Our structure will enable our graduates to travel and teach under any and all circumstances be it difficult to access regions or in response to areas affected by natural disasters.

Who will implement this Idea?

Currently, our program equips girls with the skills they need to facilitate workshops for others. Some of our alumni have partnered with organizations, schools, or local communities and have self-initiated taking components of our programs to groups of students and women. Now, WLEAD would like to expand on this and put measures into place to enable more graduates to take what they have learned and to share with more girls, students, and women across Nepal.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Patriarchy remains one of the biggest enemies of national development in Nepal. 1) On a day to day level, this means traditionally girls are raised to be submissive and obedient so that when she is married off, she will serve her husband's home well. In order to serve others, girls are often expected to sacrifice their education and ambition in order to tend to the family and household. 2) Under that context, women are still systematically disadvantaged when it comes to receiving an education or professional opportunities. Several environmental factors (such as girls having to be home before dark) limit and inhibit their potential to work, participate, and contribute to the nation.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

As a small NGO, the bulk of our program expenses is covered by our partners and funding we receive. Over the years, we have been looking for avenues to increase our income and have been putting all of our income into a reserve fund.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

1) Within the next 5 years we'd like to offer in-depth, long-term leadership and professional development training to 200+ women who then go on to influence 2000+ students and women in their schools, communities, and in remote/difficult to access regions, 2) Depending on where our graduates take and offer the training program, it will be a challenge to contextualize materials for that specific region, language, and context while maintaining quality and efficiency.

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

Currently, for the LEAD Course we use baseline and endline surveys to provide data on impact. Additionally, participant feedback in taken through focus groups, discussions, and surveys for each session so changes and improvements are made on an annual basis A similar system would be developed for further courses WLEAD offers.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Our aim is to pilot a new program by the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year. 1) Collect data and feedback on alumni regarding our programs and their efficiency/use in the years since graduating 2) Develop a new course which builds on LEAD Course while including content more appropriate for bachelor level age group. 3) Recruit from an open call as well as accepting applications from existing alumni

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Under $50,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Between 5-10 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Less than 6 months

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Understanding User and/or Community
  • Program/Service Design


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