Nepal: Jagan Suba Gurung

As a single woman promoting higher education and working to improve women's lives, Jagan Suba Gurung has become a challenging icon for change in a traditionally conservative social setting.

— Jagan Suba Gurung

As a single woman seeking higher education and working for the improvement of women's lives, Jagan Suba Gurung stands out in her Gurung community village. Her involvement in women's empowerment and community development has made her an icon for societal alteration in a largely conservative social setting.

In 1990, when Jagan Suba Gurung began working with her community's women, they would not step out of their homes in the evening and at night to attend her adult literacy classes. It was an uphill task for her to launch such revolutionary programs in Ghndruk, a Gurung village located in the Annapurna Conservation Area, a protected area rich in environmental and cultural diversity. Much, though, has changed over the decade. Jagan's work, which involves appraisals, home visits, organizing meetings, and adult literacy classes, has made a difference. Women are able to make crucial decisions about their lives; children's health and education have improved; mothers are aware of the value of nutritious food, reproductive health issues, and ambient hygiene. Organic farming and the filtering of water to make it potable have entered their lives. Jagan herself runs a guesthouse together with her sister and sister-in-law. She has done her intermediate course in economics from an institution affiliated to Nepal's Tribhuvan University, and is doing a Bachelors degree in hotel management from Pokhara University. She has also been invited to give talks and presentations abroad. It took a long time for the male elite in her community to recognize her achievements. Her outspokenness, confidence, and tendency to question conflict issues have not endeared her to the Maoists either.