Profile of Executive President – Aawaaj

Profile of Executive President

Profile of Executive President

Ms. Irada started her professional life when she was just 19 years old. She has a long history of affiliation with girls’ and women’s rights issues in Nepal. In 1998, Irada conducted a research on the difficulties faced by adolescent and preadolescent girls in Surkhet district, Midwestern region of Nepal with the support of Save the Children UK. The study indicated that almost all the girls were very discontent being a daughter due to their low status in society, restricted mobility, negative attitude from parents and neighbours, and verbal abuse and sexual harassment towards girl children.

With her long time engagement in the mid-western region while working with Save the Children, she was very much committed to give a voice for the women and children of vulnerability especially to end the gender based violence that was very normalized in the society. There was the dearth of institution working at
community level to address the sexual and gender based violence in the region. Her passion to represent the voices of women and girls’ children together with her professional interest led her to establish Aawaaj in 1999 in the mid-western Nepal. Aawaaj ( ) literally means voice.

Aawaaj used the concept of resilience to open new paths for the prevention of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, gender based violence and discrimination. It seek to provide a new platform for facilitating the women and children, the community members, and all related stakeholders to engage in interactive dialogue in order to address the women and girl’s rights as human rights issues. This concept helped to promote positive and constructive growth of the individual, family, community and the whole environment.

Aawaaj organizes and mobilizes communities to give a voice to those affected by different forms of gender based violence. Community support groups are established who act as a community based monitoring system against all forms of gender based violence. Such activities have proven to promote peace in the families and communities and to maintain the culture of solidarity for social justice. Irada’s leadership has demonstrated and built the capacity of AAWAAJ for the protection and safety of women and children in remote districts of Nepal through the expansion of Aawaaj network in Kalikot, Dailkeh, Surkhet and Bardiya .

Irada encountered numerous challenges to launch her passion to act against sexual and gender based violence that has led to gross violation of the human rights of women and girls. As a woman, she struggled hard to prove herself as a change agent to reform the social norms of deep rooted the patriarchal society, where girl children are treated as object of sexual violence.

With a humble effort, Irada established herself as an authentic leader who has facilitated and led many other change makers to bring positive changes in the society as a whole. As a founder President of Aawaaj, she is also engaged in promoting joint solidarity for national level networking, and Aawaaj is a member organization for various women’s, girls’ and children’s network.

Irada’s journey ‘to end the violence faced by women and girls in the remote districts of Nepal has come a long way. Despite her health situation (She was a survival of open heart surgery in 1993) she remained hard on her passion to provide a better life for women and girl children to live with respect and dignity. She follows her dream to make resilient for the survivors of violence.

Irada strongly believes that violence free world for women and children is possible only if every members of society work together to stand against attitude, behaviour and practices that are disrespectful for women and children. It is her sense of pride to be able to build the confidence and a sense of self-worth for women and children and to break silence both within and without. She strives for equal and safe world characterized by gender sensitivity, loving and caring, equality, justice, respect and dignity.

Despite all adversities in her own life, Irada (who lost her father at very young age) did not lose hopes but involved actively in helping out and raising out the voices that are frequently unheard.

Ms. Irada Gautam
Founder / President