Women Empowerment through Adventure Tourism in Nepal

Women Empowerment through Adventure Tourism in Nepal

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

EWN provides disadvantaged Nepalese women from isolated communities with practical trekking guide training. One month in class is followed by paid apprentice program with our sister organization 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking. Traditionally, Nepalese women are considered incapable of decision and employment opportunities are few. EWN creates an enabling environment for trainees to discover inner strengths and talents. We foster their self esteem and confidence. In encouraging questions we break negative stereotypes.
Our aim is to bridge social, cultural and economic divides; for trainees to become strong mentally and physically, take control of their lives, be responsible citizens, and understand that, with opportunities and support, women are equally capable of achieving success in life.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

lthough life has been improving for urban girls and women, Nepali women are still expected to act subserviently, are given inferior education compared with their male counterparts and are forced to work without pay or less pay. They are often abused, emotionally and physically, which further contributes to their negative self-image and low personal expectations. Violence and exploitation, including dowry- related violence, domestic abuse, and sexual violence remain serious problems. Poor, rural village women in Nepal have little access to schooling and resources are scarce. Although technically illegal, they are often married at puberty, consigning them to a lifetime of subservience. They are expected to serve their husband’s family, carrying the brunt of the workload in the home and the fields with little reward or thanks. Given a chance to better their lives through education and training, these women can find self-confidence and begin to change attitudes about women’s place in Nepali society. Nepali men travel for employment or trade and women are responsible for the family, the animals and agriculture in harsh remote locations. The woman takes care of everything, even though she has no property right or decision right in the family. Our program specifically targets these women, as that is where we feel the need is greatest. We offer additional accommodation to women from West Nepal and other remote mountain regions. However, we train women from many districts and to date over 1000 trainees have come from 46 of the 75 districts of Nepal.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The majestic Himalayas have always lured adventurous travelers from all parts of the world to trek in Nepal. Today, tourism is one of the major revenue generators that contribute a substantial percentage to the GDP of the Nepalese economy. Yet, within this booming economy, until 1999 the world of trekking guides was exclusively male. The concept of female trekking guide was unknown until the 3 Sisters realized the need for female guides and that this could help disadvantaged women from isolated mountain communities to find work. While running 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking, the sisters realized that they needed an in-depth training program which would allow their staff to be well informed in all aspects of tourism and trekking in Nepal. In 1999, they established EWN, a social enterprise that provides opportunities for disadvantaged women – often from disadvantaged background and isolated villages - to become confident, self-sufficient, and decision-making. After completion of training, 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking provides employment to interested trainees. This holistic combination of training and job placement for Nepalese women is an initiative for which EWN has become well-known nationally and internationally. Former EWN trainees are not only making a decent income, but they are also continuing with higher education, operating enterprises, working for local non-profits in their villages, taking up leadership positions in society, voicing their opinions and demanding their rights.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

1. Female Trekking Guide Training Program 2. Advanced Technical Rock and Ice Climbing Training 3. West Nepal Community Development Training 4. Children’s Home 5. Midwifery Scholarship At EWN/3 Sisters Adventure Trekking we understand the tourism market in Nepal and the need to give women opportunities in tourism. Our training programs aim to develop skilled human resources, enabling disadvantaged women to enter the tourism market and improve their own well being and that of their families. We also provide courses such as conversational English and other foreign languages to ensure good communication with trekking clients and potential future employers; as well as advanced training and updates on new skills for our senior guides. We are engaged in conducting research on Nepalese women’s involvement in tourism in Pokhara, exploring the opportunities, constraints, and risks for women working in the tourism industry. We run a micro savings group among our staff to support their welfare and to create opportunities for utilizing the money to develop small enterprises or help them further their education. EWN’s Children Home are providing educational opportunities for 18 children rescued from bondage labor, extreme harsh environments, and disadvantage families. We provide midwifery scholarship for young girls from West Nepal to serve their community. EWN is also involved and actively works in collaboration with various embassies development funds and international foundations. We believe it is important to empower women in social activities outside the trekking industry and we promote individual talents – tailoring and coursed bead-work – to help trainees subsidize their families. We encourage the women to engage in sports and cultural programs. Many are excellent runners, rock climbers, folk singers and dancers.
About You
3 Sisters Adventures
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

3 Sisters Adventures

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Lucky Chhetri is from a large middle-class family and had a secluded childhood. It was difficult for her parents to support the family with limited income and no education but they encouraged their children to attend government schools and worked endlessly to ensure their future.
Lucky completed her B.A degree in India and worked for an NGO in Kathmandu, conducting fieldwork in remote communities of West Nepal. She was astonished to see the plight of women. Most were illiterate, worked wearyingly hard in the harsh terrain, married at a very early age, and suffered health problems.
In 1990, Lucky participated in the Basic Mountaineering Course. During the training she realized her inner strength.
Later, while running a guest house in Pokhara, the sisters met unhappy female trekkers who had been sexually harassed by male guides. They explored ideas to give female clients a good trekking experience in Nepal, at the same time assisting Nepalese women from remote areas to pull themselves out of the misery of their harsh conditions.
Lucky trekked to Annapurna Base Camp, crossing rivers and passing through rugged landscapes. She and her sisters realized that there was a need for female guides and that for women from mountain communities trekking tourism could provide good jobs.
In 1998, they started 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking, the first Nepalese trekking company owned by women and employing Nepalese women. The following year they established EWN to organize training.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

EWN’s training goals include:
Improved confidence, self-esteem, and motivation
Increased income and higher living standard
Improved social, communication and leadership skills.

Impacts include:
1. Over 1500 women and men have benefited from EWN’s training.
2. We currently employ 100-120 female guides and assistants seasonally.
3. Former trainees run trekking jobs independently or with other companies.
4. Former trainees have opened trekking companies or tea houses in trekking areas.
5. Initially difficult to find 10 women to join our program, we now receive over 60 candidates per training.
6. EWN provides rock and ice climbing training program. Our trainees are amongst the top rock climbers in Nepal.
7. Recently, four EWN trainees summited Annapurna 4 (7525m) becoming the first Nepalese women to scale this rugged peak.
8. Some trainees work part-time during trekking season, to support higher education.
9. A few former trainees have had an opportunity to study and work abroad.
10. Former trainees from West Nepal have returned to their villages and now work with local non-profit organizations and schools. Many have their own enterprises.
11. Former trainees have found work in other tourism sectors - managing front desks in hotels and travel companies.
12. There are now companies in Kathmandu which use women guides in their businesses.
13. Our work, that was limited to trekking, now also prepares trainees with additional skills of rock and ice climbing in order to increase their income.
14. Due to our program’s success, international organizations approach us for partnership and collaboration.
15. Many articles, case studies, theses, projects on private/public partnership have been conducted about EWN/3 Sisters Adventure Trekking
16. Our organizations have received prestigious local, national, and international media attention and recognition.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The Female Trekking Guide Training Program is financially secured through our social business, 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking.

For rock climbing training, we have equipment, a rented facility, and trainers to run the program a few times a year. Our trainees would greatly benefit if we had a team of trainers who could provide training on a regular basis. EWN is providing advance technical training to our trainees in hopes that they would become our future potential climbing guides.

Currently, we are charging a small fee to clients for rock climbing, which supports the rent and maintenance of the outdoor wall. We plan to better advertize, promote, and build on our rock climbing program so that we can attract more clients and sustain our rock climbing training program.

Due to unemployment many Nepalese women are leaving the country. Since 2007, we have been working with the Magic Mountain Foundation, Poland, for our ice climbing training courses in Nepal and abroad, creating new employment opportunities for disadvantage women to pursue their careers in adventure tourism to improve their lives.

This year, 2011, we are working with the 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking (P) Ltd, Government of Nepal, Nepal Mountaineering Association, international foundations, individual donors, and private organizations, to support our ice climbing program.

Ice climbing training is a very expensive program to run and we therefore aim to increase our program partners and look for more sources of both in-kind support and financial support.

EWN’s curriculum has been prepared by our own field experience and knowledge. Our curriculum does not include all specific subject matter formulated by an expert. Therefore, it becomes a challenge for us to convince people regarding our curriculum validity. At present, EWN staff and volunteers are modifying the curriculum.

Tell us about your partnerships

We work regularly with many local organizations and individual experts in related fields, who provide classes during our Female Trekking Guide training programs.

3 Sisters Adventure Trekking is our main partner organization for the paid apprenticeship program and for employment for interested trainees after the EWN in class training course. 3 Sisters business contribute 15% of their profit every year to conduct our bi-annual female trekking guide training program and also supports part of the children home project.

Harry Brands (The Netherlands) and Tendi Sherpa (Kathmandu) are the two EWN Rock Climbing Instructors who provide r rock climbing training courses a few times every year. Additionally, we receive great help from our volunteers for technical assistant for our rock climbing training.

We also work in partnership with the Nepal Mountaineering Association for technical assistance from time to time, especially during our rock climbing competitions.

Since 2007 we have been working with the Magic Mountain Foundation, Poland, for ice climbing training courses.

Since 2011, in support of our ice climbing program, we are working with the Government of Nepal, Nepal Mountaineering Association (Pokhara Chapter), several international foundations, such as the Women Win from the Netherlands, 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking (P) Ltd, individual donors, private organizations, and local and national media.

Finally, we are working in close collaboration with Nodan, a local organization that is involved in providing several training courses using various sports for children, youth, and adults.

Explain your selections

EWN’s primary project, Female Trekking Guide Training, is fully supported by the sister organisation, 3 Sisters Trekking Adventure. This is a wonderful self-sustaining business model as the training provides employees for the commercial business, supporting it through internships, and then the profit is put back into further training for the next round of participants.

EWN also has a good working relationship with partner organizations in the field that help us with trainees’ selection. Furthermore, they provide us with logistic and training delivery support during our field training program.

Our Children’s Home and the West Nepal Community Development projects are supported by various other means – grants from foundations and individual donors. Our clients also support our project by trekking with our company and recommending our services to their friends and families.

Individual donors, international foundations, Government of Nepal, and other national public and private organizations are providing us in-kind, equipment, and financial support for the ice climbing training.
EWN friends and family also support us to spread the word about our organizations, recommend for treks in Nepal, and provide us their time at the EWN office. Moreover, they help us connect with different organizations etc.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

We plan to develop long-term partnerships with more organizations for technical and financial support. We will now also train specialized female guides for flora and fauna, high altitude climbing, rock climbing, culture and religion, and foreign language experts. We will continue to provide ongoing training courses to our advanced trainees and staff, to equip them with all needed knowledge and skills to better their performance at work.
Our team is receiving international scholarship on different programs which will enhance our skills and knowledge.
Since we are funded by our own business, we also plan changes in our business strategy. Our clients are mostly repeaters and/or recommended by word of mouth and we will continue to do our best to stay connected with our loyal clients and well-wishers. We will also look for partnerships to work with foreign tour operators, and we are planning a budget for marketing and promotion of our company.
We are working on modifying our basic female trekking guide curriculum and also developing an advance curriculum for our advance training. We are also purchasing rock climbing and ice climbing equipment, to meet the need of our training program and to offer peak climbing packages to adventurous clients. Recently, our ice climbing project Nepalese Women Annapurna Expedition-2011 received great success. With greater partnership and funding, we plan to continue on with this project in the coming years. EWN has conducted research on Nepalese Women’s participation in Tourism in Nepal and would continue to do so.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Restrictive cultural norms


Lack of skills/training



Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

1. In a society where girls and women have so few options in life, we provide an opportunity to become self-sufficient, breaking the typical expectations that our traditional Nepalese culture weighs on women.
2. With limited education and lack of opportunity, Nepalese women are trapped in a vicious poverty cycle. Our free of cost, practical, minimal qualification training program creates employment opportunities for such women. We offer to rural women innovative courses so that women who have had limited education can also learn the skills to be trekking guides.
3. Women in Nepal have very few employment opportunities. We employ the women who complete our training programs. We also actively support creation of their own small enterprises or transition to their dream jobs.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.



Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services


Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

In addition to extending our female trekking guide training, some of our trainees are excellent rock climbers and we are looking forward to strengthening and promoting rock climbing and ice climbing activities. Following the recent success of our ice climbing expedition, we hope to find more partners willing to provide us with long term financial support for this.
At present we rent an outdoor climbing facility for training. In future, if funds are found, we plan to purchase this facility and provide ongoing regular training to EWN trainees, and also to open it up to girls’ orphanages in Pokhara.
EWN plans to build a multi-sports facility in Pokhara. We will use this facility for our trainees, and also open it up to paying clients to generate income to sustain our training courses.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

We work with the government during our technical training courses for our female trekking guide training classes, requesting government organizations in Pokhara and Kathmandu to offer their expertise.
We rely on our field office staff and local NGOs for the selection and monitoring of our trainees’ progress. We also rely on our foreign partner organizations for technical, financial, and in-kind support during our training program.
We rely on 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking to operate our female trekking guide training program. This training is funded by the profit from the 3 Sisters Company.
We get a number of interns and volunteers from various countries, who provide their time, efforts, and support our program all year round. IT assistance is also provided by our generous volunteers.