Nepali elder Anuradha Koirala has spent 25 years saving women from violence and providing the support for their reintegration back into society.
Over that time, she’s saved an estimated 40,000 women from sex trafficking.
Koirala runs a charity, Maiti Nepal, which has rescued tens of thousands of women and children from situations of violence and given them the pastoral and financial support they need to reintegrate into society.
Her work has provided rehabilitation services to 25,000 people and paved the way for the prosecution of 1,600 traffickers and more than 340 rapists. In addition, her teams have mediated 11,000 domestic violence cases.
For this, she was selected as CNN’s Hero of the Year in 2010, and chosen to deliver a Tedx talk — which explains how an interest in women begging on the street in Kathmandu pushed her along the road to the work she does now.
“Each of them were victims of some forms of violence — trafficking, HIV AIDS, polygamy, rape, domestic. So I started talking to them everyday about the empowerment of women and violence against women. I told them I would give them some support if they left begging.”
She helped eight women start small shops, providing them with a small loan in return for a repayment every day. This charitable instinct expanded, renting rooms to look after some of these women’s children, providing food, clothes and medicine. It then formalised as an NGO with a focus on stopping violence against women and running educational campaigns to ensure people were aware of the threat from traffickers.
Koirala’s charity also runs a school, which has nine cohorts of students and has educated 1,200 pupils. These are often the children of rescued women, or sometimes simply children living rough on the streets.
“I cannot say no to anybody. Everybody comes to Maiti Nepal.”
Anuradha Koirala has not gone unnoticed within Nepal: she has been appointed Assistant State Minister of Women Children and Social Welfare in recognition of her work. She has also been awarded 38 national and international awards, and in recognition of her actions, the Government of Nepal now recognises 5th September as anti-trafficking day.Tags: Activism, Nepal, NGO, Women Empowerment