This is one of ten shortlisted entries for our Things To Do Before You Die contest. We will try to make the winning idea happen.
The entries on the shortlist are:
"Inform The World About Lyme Disease" - Beth Ross
"Improving The Lives Of Dogs" - Emily Grossheider
"Becoming A Regular Size" - Will Holt
"Seeing Through Photography" - Jeremy Braun
"Live Like We're Dying" - Jonathan Winegarden
"One Wish Before I Die: Let Women Lead" - Claire Charamnac
"My Wish For A Buried Life" - Ashley Calarie
"The Dark Has Its Own Light" - Mary Rose Betten
"Thank You For Being A Teacher" - Caroline Cretti
"My Wish: To Be A Professional Pinup Model" - Alicia Leeman
The one thing I wish to do before I die is empower 10,000 young women around the world to become leaders with my non-profit organization, Women LEAD. In 2010, I co-founded Women LEAD at the age of 20 with my close friend and fellow university student, Claire Naylor. We founded Women LEAD, a leadership development organization for young women in Nepal, because we both strongly believe that the lack of female leaders around the world is one of the biggest inequalities of the 21st century.
Women in Nepal face overwhelming challenges: 1/3 of girls aged 15 to 19 are married and 60% of women are illiterate. Less than 2¢ of every development dollar goes to girls and 9 of 10 youth programs are aimed at boys. These grim statistics stand in stark contrast to the potential we see in the young women we serve through our organization. When we first started our programs in 2010, we saw that they had the passion, vision and solutions to create change in their communities, but they simply lacked the resources and support to do so.
For the past two years, we have been working with our team of youth leaders (all under 23) to empower young women in Kathmandu. Despite limited resources and rampant gender discrimination, we have grown from a 2-week pilot program serving 28 young women in 2010 to an organization with 3 yearlong programs serving 200 youth.
Women LEAD empowers these young women to take leadership positions alongside men in Nepal by providing them with the skills to pursue their vision for change. Our girls come from diverse backgrounds but share a passion for building a more equal and inclusive Nepal. We provide them with leadership skills, mentorship, school leadership, social entrepreneurship and internship opportunities to support them as they become brilliant leaders in their schools and communities.
Many of our participants had never written a resume or spoken up in public before attending our programs. The skills and resources we provide them with will enable them to access and leverage leadership positions. This new generation of qualified female leaders will work with men to transform Nepal's unjust structures, building a culture of gender sensitivity in their schools, communities and nation.
What would our world look like if we gave these tools to 10 000 16 to 18 year old young women around the world to become leaders and solve the most pressing problems in their communities?
It would look like what we've already seen happen with our Women LEAD graduates in Kathmandu: girls leading workshops for 120 students in their own schools, mentoring others, and creating social ventures to address problems such as waste and poverty in their community. They have incredible dreams for themselves and their country, and we are committed to supporting them as they pursue their vision for change in Nepal.