Budhi Maya SunarNepal
Born in Nawalparasi, Budhi Maya was the second child out of seven children of the family. Even after convincing her mother for so long she was only able to attend school for a week, having to look after her little brothers and sisters and lend a hand to her parents at the field held her back from going to the school. Budhi Maya Sunar is from a dalit (lower caste family) community, and because of her identity and living in a community full of Bhramin (higher caste family), she was discriminated throughout her childhood. She feels that had she been to school she might have gotten along with the others and not have been discriminated from the society.
She got married at age 17 years but after few years of her marriage her husband passed away. After her husband passed away she did not receive any encouragement and support from her husbands family. Her daughter was two years old then. She felt the absence of the breadwinner of her family. In the year 1999, she was selected to attend Dhaka (traditional Nepali weaved fabric) cloth weaving training organized by Micro Enterprise Development Program. She was more motivated when she saw that all the women there were just like her; deprived and discriminated in the community. She received Rs. 500 (US $5) everyday for snack for four months and also received another Rs. 2000 (US $20) after completing her training. She used the money she had obtained during the training and got additional Rs. 3000 (US $30) from her mother and started her own Dhaka weaving business she bought a loom to weave Dhaka. With the help of MEDEP she was able to obtain loan from which she bought extra looms.
She donated one of the looms to the group of women whose parents denied investing on them. She had made five looms within a year. She started a Dhaka (traditional Nepali weaved fabric) cloth weaving business with a small group of women in Nawalparasi district. Till date she has provided Dhaka (traditional Nepali weaved fabric) cloth weaving training to more than fifteen hundred women from 12 different districts around the country. She conducted training with the help from Business Development Service Program Organization BDSPO, an institute of Micro Enterprise Development Program (MEDEP) that provides skill and entrepreneurship development training all over the country. People would listen to her on the radio or would come to her place personally asking for help. She worked together with Micro Enterprise Development Program (MEDEP), Women Development Committee, District Development Committee, and Village Development Committee. She is also chair person of District Micro Entrepreneur Group Association and member of National Micro Entrepreneurs Federation.
She did not stop mentoring fifteen hundred women she had initially. She also attended quite a lot of different Dhaka (traditional Nepali weaved fabric) designing training, entrepreneurship development training and because of which she was able to engage herself in many committees. Presently, she is the chair person of m District Micro Entrepreneurs Group Association, Nawalparasi and central committee member of National Micro Entrepreneurs Federation. She use to work in a committee and have prepared budgets for women and Dalits .
Sunar believes that providing training for once is not enough, additional trainings were as important to generate qualitative results. "People tend to use the Government fund for something easy, but not for something productive and significant in the society." said Sunar as she explained the difficulties she faced during work. "Members of different committees want to move on to next station after one training session, but that is not how it works. It is very crucial to come back to the same place and follow up on previous training. Women should also be directed towards income generating and skill training events." she adds.
She has seen her mentees who were discriminated before now have won respect from their families and communities. Backwardness of the society and peoples attitude disappointed her at the initial stage, yet she did not let the ray of hope of change escape her heart. However, she was successful at helping women understand the strength of being unified. She educated her mentees and the society that when women are unified, the society will never be able to dominate them. She also adds that to restore peace in a society one should never underestimate other. Women and men both can be underprivileged of their basic rights. Men should not misjudge womens potential and neither should women undervalue mens. Because the patriarchal society that still exists in Nepal it is very important for women to be economically independent, in order to support gender equality in the Nepalese community.