07 Jan Ramkali Khadka: A Nepali Catalyst for Change
In 2016, I had the incredible opportunity to do a speaking tour of Nepal on behalf of the U.S. State Department. My focus was to promote entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment, so over the course of 3 weeks, I visited many organizations supporting women in their endeavors to create a better life for themselves. One visit, however, left an indelible impression upon me.
Pokhara, Nepal — a short flight from Kathmandu — is home to the Women’s Skills Development Organization, led by Founder and Executive Director Ramkali Khadka. WSDO focuses on creating jobs and training for physically and economically disadvantaged women in rural Nepal. The importance of that first part cannot be stressed enough, because the caste system, though never discussed in formal conversation, is very much alive in Nepal. Women who are disabled can easily be considered burdens rather than productive members of society, so anything that transcended that perspective was easily a game-changer.
The impact of this was brought to life for me in meeting the women working at WSDO to produce textiles and other products for leading catalogues and companies around the world. One of the production managers was born with no legs, and she shared with me her story of now being the one who supports her entire family, trains the staff, manages production, and travels to speak all around Nepal. Without this path of possibility, her future would have been bleak at best. Instead she is a thriving, joyful human being who experiences herself as a success.
When I toured the property with Madam Khadka, she showed me with great pride the manufacturing process, featuring sustainable dyes and yarns that were ethically and sourced. She pointed out handbag strings woven by blind women, textiles handwoven by a team of experts and apprentices, and a well-established system of production. Most importantly, every woman seemed so proud to be there, and part of WSDO.
At the time, the organization had lost its location, and Khadka expressed concern about moving and having enough clients to sustain a new location, particularly because there is a long and perpetual list of women waiting to come work for WSDO! They are now installed in their new location, but are always seeking ways to take on more clients and expand, as each new client means another woman trained and hired. You can learn more about them, place orders, and get involved by visiting https://wsdonepal.com/.