As Rabbi David Wolpe states, “Privilege is a call to give back.” Having grown up with so many privileges, Sandhya Acharya always felt that it was her responsibility to work for the socio-economic development of her community, especially on women’s issues.
Sandhya grew up in an upper-middle-class family in Kathmandu, Nepal’s vibrant capital. She was fortunate to go to a good school and have easy access to a diverse, healthy diet. Her parents hoped she would become a medical doctor: the top career choice for most people in her affluent community. But Sandhya housed a quiet passion in her heart.
Sandhya’s attention was drawn to an academic course in community development. She completed a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development and quickly started looking for opportunities to serve her community through different youth programs.
It wasn’t long before she discovered the Global Peace Women Leadership Academy. The program attracts young women activists like Sandhya to help foster confidence and build essential skills for leadership. “When I learned of the Global Peace Women Leadership Academy (GPWLA), I saw it as a timely opportunity to harness my leadership skills, such as effective communication, partnership building, proposal writing, etc.” shared Sandhya. “My sole purpose for applying to join GPWLA was to learn how I could better understand my community and its problems as I sought to disrupt the status quo in various circles related to development.”
The academy is a signature program of Global Peace Women, an affiliate of the Global Peace Foundation. GPW creates initiatives that uplift women’s dignity and value, empower families, and advance service-minded women’s leadership to foster peace in the home and society.
Sandhya confessed that she began the program with several shortcomings, like a lack of experience in public speaking, team management, and partnership building. However, she displayed enormous optimism and enthusiasm. “At the end of the program, I was changed a lot as a person and leader,” said Sandhya. “Running a service project during my time at the academy helped me to grow exponentially. I gained skills in managing my team, project participants, and partner organization while running the program smoothly. My GPWLA project focused on solving social issues like gender-based discrimination, gender-based violence, and family feuds and addressing the increasing separation of married couples in society.”
For years, family breakdown has been highlighted as a significant issue in Nepalese communities. As a result, many other social challenges have surged, including gender-based violence and child abuse. Records pulled from 2015 show that more than 15,000 divorce cases had been filed in Kathmandu within the year. The research stated that one-third of children living in such homes were more likely to face violence and abuse.
When Sandhya discovered these shocking statistics, she was even more determined to initiate the “Family Value Education Program” project. The project uses an innovative form of theater that showcases dire social challenges and the importance of healthy families to building peaceful societies. Called “Forum Theater,” the program has been an effective way of engaging the audience’s emotions. The project continues to make an impact as more people are trained to conduct the Family Value Education Program in their own communities.
Sandhya started with inspiring passion, and with the help of Global Peace Women and the friends and mentors she met along her journey, she is touching the lives of so many people in Nepal. She continues to transform lives today. She has since established her own organization called “Mahila Pahila.” The organization works to increase access to education and economic opportunities for hard-to-reach girls and women of Nepal to tackle violence and discrimination against them.
“I recommend the GPWLA program to young girls passionate about bringing change in their communities globally,” said Sandhya. “The program brings unity and hope as it helps one to live for the greater good of others.”
Learn more at www.globalpeacewomen.org.