Chairperson Profile « Rural Women Development Center
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Chairperson Profile

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In 2008, Aasmani Chaudhary was selected as the 2008 International Honouree for the Health and Dignity of Women by Americans for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, for her exemplary community-based efforts to improve the health and well-being of some of Nepal’s poorest women in the mid-western rural area of Dang, Rolpa, Banke, Bardia, Salyan, and Pyuthan through activities and programs related to income generation, advocacy, literacy, reproductive health, and empowerment.

She flew to the United States for the first time as she prepared to receive this international award managed by Americans for UNFPA in New York. Dressed in her traditional Tharu costume, Chaudhary approached the stage to receive her award when a mammoth gathering erupted into a thunderous applause that echoed through the entire hall. The massive gathering could intimidate anyone, but Chaudhary fearlessly and confidently delivered her speech after receiving the award.

An enthusiastic Chaudhary remarked, “Many Tharu women have come to believe that it is not their destiny to live in despair, and we have gained self-respect and the means to insist that we are worthy of more. Education and health care are key. A society will not progress as long as rural women remain financially dependent, weak, or in broken spirits. And I will feel my mission is complete only when all the women of Nepal have access to their basic rights to reproductive health, education, and income generation.”

For Chaudhary, who was born in a Tharu community that is often considered backwards and marginalised in Nepal, this award was the highest achievement. When she was born, her community and society were engulfed in traditional patriarchal values that marginalised women. Back then, girls were not allowed to go to school. Chaudhary was lucky enough to be able to go to school and forge her path to help many others.

On this occasion, a letter from the U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, was handed to her for her hard work. She also met with the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon during the award reception party.

In 2012, the then-American Ambassador to Nepal, His Excellency Scott Delesi invited Chaudhary to attend a dinner party in Kathmandu.

In 2023, the American Ambassador to Nepal, His Excellency  Dean R. Thompson invited Chaudhary to attend the 247th Anniversary of the independent day of the United States of America at Silver Oak Banquets, Gairidhara in Kathmandu.

Chaudhary has been honored with several other national awards recognizing her consistent contribution to rural women, society, and the nation. She has attended several international seminars in the USA, India, Japan, Egypt, Oman, Dubai, Doha, Bangladesh, Philippines, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam to share her knowledge and skill about rural women empowerment through advocacy, literacy, capacity development, and income generation.

She has mobilized more than 14,000 groups of rural women who make savings in their groups and take petty loans based on group collateral. She has also mobilized more than 40,000 rural women in advocacy, literacy, income generation, livelihood, and climate change.

After completing her schooling, Chaudhary became acutely aware of her surroundings and realized that the discrimination and beliefs against rural women were the main hurdles behind their development and progress. She also noticed that women did not have access to education and income generation, both of which could uplift their situation.

Thus, she set out to change these norms where women were discriminated against and forced to live a life deprived of education, income, and healthcare.

She established the Rural Women Development Centre (RWDC) – Gramin Mahila Uthan Kendra in 1993. This organization would become the medium to transform the lives of women and make them economically viable, independent, fearless, and capable of leading their families and societies through women empowerment projects and income generation activities through microfinance programs launched in targeted areas.

RWDC has humble beginnings as Chaudhary did not have resources at hand. She did not even have chairs, tables, and other basic furniture to start the office. But that did not deter her from her aim. She rented a room in a mud house and started this NGO, followed by microfinance after a decade. The members of the organization sat on the floor and worked until projects and microfinance activities could fulfill the office’s needs.

Chaudhary’s effort has been relentless. She has contributed to the health, education, income generation, and gender equity of more than 300,000 rural women in the last 29 years, and she aims to continue to serve the needs of innumerable rural women in the future.

Click the following link for Aasmni Chaudhary interview in the media

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