Start with small things


At present, approximately 85% of the members in Marfa Small Farmer Agro Cooperative are women. Despite that 85% is already an incredible achievement; manager Kamala Lalchan Adhikari wishes to see the number to be increased up to 95 % within the next 5 years. Kamala argues that a cooperative is the best place to empower women.

Kamala Lalchan Adhikari, 52 years
Marfa Small farmer Agro Cooperative Ltd., Mustang district, Nepal.

“In our community, women are dominated by men and don’t have much power. Women are under privileged, so I want to encourage them. Then I want to improve their abilities and capacities so that they are capable to fight for their rights. Because I was involved in many women groups, I have a close view on the problems of women. At the same time, I know about the cooperative and its concept, and I find a cooperation as the best place to do something for women.”

Before working at the cooperative, Kamala worked for an international non -profit organisation for 13 years as health supervisor where she taught several women and mother groups. After this, she began her own hotel business. For the past 3 years she manages the cooperative while as well taking care of her apple and apricot farm.

“As a woman, it is quite easy to gain other women’s trust and convince them to join a cooperative. I understand the problems of women. For this reason, I could have 85% female members.”

As a leader of the cooperative, Kamala wants to be an example for other women and motivate them. “I want to motivate them to do farming as business and to be actively involved in the cooperative. But motivating women to become active, is not an easy task. Some women in our community are not getting the full family support to do something by themselves.”

But Kamala does not give up, she keeps trying to motivate them. Her motto is: your dreams should be big, but you should always have the power to start with small things. To increase women’s participation, Kamala invited them to community meetings. “They discuss their problems and solve their issues. Women used to be victim of domestic abuse.” Once women are motivated to be active, the cooperative can give trainings on practical skills, and give the women opportunities to work with other male and female leaders. These are ways, according to Kamala, to encourage female leadership.

But there are also other challenges. “The first priority of a woman is the family. So she has to manage her time between family and her leadership role. That is a challenge in my point of view.” And because of this, a community that support female leadership is needed to encourage more women into leading positions. With women empowerment engrave in her mind, in the future, Kamala wish to see more and more women in her area join the cooperative, and many of them become skilful.

You can see the juice processing factory run by Kamala’s cooperative here:
(in Nepali language)


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