Secondary navigation

Small steps towards a more ‘heavenly’ existence for women of Nepal

Small steps towards a more ‘heavenly’ existence for women of Nepal

Published:02 February 2018

TOP: The CQUni contingent being welcomed by Tek Chhetry, Director of International Relations at Pokhara University. From right are Darcy Robinson, Jessica Powell, Dr Wendy Hillman and Dr Kylie Radel. BELOW: Other highlights of the journey.

Trekkers arriving at Rara Lake in the remote west of Nepal have described feeling like they are arriving in heaven.

However, the locals live a far from heavenly existence. Women in particular face a daily grind of subsistence farming on some of the steepest slopes in the world.

Due to limited education options, some of the Nepalese villagers living off the beaten track don’t even know that Mount Everest is in their country, let alone having a grasp of business and tourism opportunities.

A small contingent of female academics and students from CQUniversity recently foot-slogged across remote trails to investigate potential income-generating opportunities for impoverished Nepalese women. They were on a CQUGlobal Outbound study tour.

Sociology Lecturer Dr Wendy Hillman and Marketing and Tourism lecturer Dr Kylie Radel travelled with undergraduate students Jessica Powell (Professional Communications) and Darcy Robinson (Arts), assisted by a guide from the female-only trekking company, 3 Sisters.

Living in the homes of Nepalese families gave them a chance to discuss small steps that could have large benefits for local communities.

“We are looking into hands-on projects that can help these remote villages - one rupee at a time and one shovel at a time – not major infrastructure,” says Dr Radel.

“We are looking at things like tourism homestays, farm tourism and volunteer tourism.

“We are looking at delivering remote education, raising literacy, numeracy and basic business skills.

“We are looking at marketing and distribution of local farm produce and even new products such as honey.”

Dr Hillman says CQUni has long-established links with the Nepalese government and local Pokhara University which can be galvanised to promote new education, business and tourism opportunities.

While in Nepal, Dr Hillman and Dr Radel delivered two days of intensive workshops about qualitative research to faculty members and students at Pokhara University.

Student Jessica Powell said the Nepal trip was a “transformative girl power experience which provided many insights into how entrepreneurship can empower women in remote areas”.

“Nepali society discourages women from furthering themselves educationally and professionally as their role is to cook, clean, harvest and have children,” Jessica says.

“Our guide Durga went against this norm however, leaving her rural West Nepali village and first working as a porter, then a guide-porter and now a guide - this process took her 10 years and a lot of hard work.

“People like Durga are going against the norm and showing Nepal how strong and important its women truly are.”

Jessica commented that, during homestays with Nepalese families in remote regions, “though they have so little, they shared all they had with us”.

Dr Hillman and Dr Radel are planning several trips to Nepal in 2018, including another with undergraduate students.