2 - Ms. Tirtha Maya Pradhan: A Lesson in Cooperation

Publish by : Karine Létourneau

As this second interview is about to start, I am filled with the same feelings as yesterday. A happy mix of stress and eagerness fuels me. Sadly, a power outage keeps our interviewee from reaching us. However, thanks to my colleagues’ responsiveness, Ms. Tirta Maya Pradhan, whose interview was scheduled for another time, generously fills in and joins us.

She lives in Panauti, a small town located about 30 kilometers southeast of Kathmandu. Involved in various activities, her motivation is and has always been to do social good. For 30 years, she worked as an elementary school teacher, shaping the minds of a whole generation of Nepalese children, thereby acquiring a status of leader in her community.

Three years ago, she retired from teaching, which allowed her to fully devote herself to the Laxmi Mahila cooperative she founded back in 2056 BS. While this might look either like a typo or like she comes from the future to Gregorian calendar users, it only means that the Bikram Sambat, thus the abbreviation BS, is the official calendar used in Nepal. From January to April, this his Hindu calendar is 56 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar and 57 years ahead for the rest of the year. Therefore, the cooperative exists since about year 2000.

For over two decades, it has been providing savings and loans as well as entrepreneurship training to women from the villages surrounding Panauti. As most members are involved in agriculture and livestock, Ms. Tirta Maya Pradhan can rely on her experience in poultry and vegetable farming to offer them sound advice. Since the crop growing operations are currently run by her family members, she is not involved in them daily. Although she does not shy away from providing her assistance when needed, she appreciates having the freedom to pursue her social activities.

On most days, after her morning yoga practice, she attends various meetings. Amongst them are WECCSL’s board meetings. She has been an active member of the board since WECCSL’s creation in 2001. It is her aim to work towards the betterment of society that has motivated her to join the organization, as it empowers and inspires women to be agents of change.

Even though she has spent her whole life teaching, she never stopped learning. She participated in many trainings offered by WECCSL on topics as various as policy development, cooperative operations, leadership, and business planning. As women juggle many responsibilities, including taking care of their families and pursuing income generating activities, she believes that management training can help them develop skills that can be useful in both business and everyday life.

Sharing the same views on sustainability as Ms. Devaka Shrestha, she is concerned by the rate of unemployment of Nepal’s youth. She wants them to realize that there are opportunities at the local level and to seize them. Supporting skill development, self-employment and entrepreneurship is a great way to motivate them to use their potential to generate sustainable economic development.

She has noticed that WECCSL’s actions have had beneficial impacts on her community. She has a positive view of the organization’s past, present, and future. Through the years, WECCSL has united many women all over the country, allowing them to become stronger together. Its wide network is one of its greatest assets. She is optimistic that WECCSL will keep doing a great job supporting women’s empowerment and advocating for women’s rights for the years to come.

In the end, although she has retired from teaching, she is far from being retired from community life. The cooperative movement can greatly benefit from her knowledge and her drive as she dedicates herself to improving the status of women. I am very thankful that she has accepted to share her wisdom and I hope that reading her uplifting story has inspired you.


Image: Ms. Tirtha Maya Pradhan during our interview / Ms. Tirtha Maya Pradhan at a cooperative training workshop

Stay informed

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know!