What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
Trekking tourism is a huge industry in Nepal thanks to the Himalayas, but in the early 1990s women trekking guides were unheard of in a male dominated profession. Women worked hard behind the scenes, but control, ownership and money were in the men's hands. On the other hand, women travelers came from all over the world, while women in Nepal could not even work openly in tourism because of the damage that would occur to their reputation.
We started a guesthouse in Pokhara and heard women travelers complaining of harassment by male guides and porters. They asked us to guide them. As a trained mountaineer, I and my two sisters started 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking to provide a service run by women for women. However, there were not enough women guides to satisfy demand, because this was an unknown profession for women.
Slowly women started asking us for jobs, but due to lack of education, knowledge and skills were not able to guide. Women from mountainous areas in west Nepal are especially disadvantaged due to extreme poverty, surviving in remote, harsh environments. These women are physically strong, used to working all day carrying heavy loads yet earning nothing. We believed they could be excellent trekking guides, earning good money and learning at the same time.
Training was needed for these women to give them the necessary skills and knowledge to work as trekking guides. We founded EWN to continue this training and designed a curriculum to meet these requirements.
Realizing that women needed to gain experience in the field, we introduced the new concept in Nepal of skills-based training. 3 Sisters provides a paid apprenticeship facility for the women to practice their new-found skills and gain confidence, while also earning money. The women attend as many training courses as necessary until they qualify as guides, allowing each woman to learn at her own pace.
Following the success and continued interest in our trekking guide training programs, we
Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.
After obtaining a Bachelor degree in Arts in Darjeeling India, Lucky Chhetri moved to Kathmandu to pursue her studies. In Kathmandu, she was given the opportunity to work for an NGO (1986-87). She was assigned to work in western Nepal and was shocked to see how miserable and destitute the rural women’s lives were. She longed to do something to support them. A few years later, she attended the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute’s program, which changed her life. While running a guesthouse in Pokhara (1993-1994) with her two other sisters, solo women travelers complained about harassment from male guides and porters. When they heard about Lucky’s mountaineering experience, they asked her to guide them in the Himalayas. 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking was born, followed by Empowering Women of Nepal – Lucky was finally able to help the rural women of Nepal.
Lucky Chhetri is a regular speaker at (inter)national seminars and workshops on the topic of women empowerment. She has been nominated as advisor to the Nepal Tourism Year 2011 and is regularly appointed as a consultant by many international organizations.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Personal contact at Changemakers
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