Rajina is a development practitioner with 12 years of experience working with young women in various capacities. She works in Resources, Impact, and Learnings at CREA, a feminist human rights organization based in New Delhi, India. She is on the board of ‘Fun Play Learn’, where she supports young volunteers to help primary-level children build a foundational understanding of math, science, and reading. She is a former board chair of Women LEAD Nepal, and former co-lead and co-founder at Women Leaders in Technology, an organization working to bridge the gender gap in tech. She has been involved in participatory grant-making processes as part of the advisory committee for the FREE STEM Fund and FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund.
“In the LEAD Course, the sessions led by Sapana Pradhan Malla and Aruna Uprety were transformative for me. Their stories of championing women’s rights, securing abortion rights, and criminalizing marital rape, served as powerful testaments to the impact of collective action and the pivotal role of women in leadership. These lessons underscored the significance of collaboration and tenacity in driving societal change.
This resonated deeply with my personal and professional journey. Drawing inspiration from their achievements, I’ve been motivated to foster women’s leadership through my work in Women Leaders in Technology, Women LEAD Nepal, and CREA. Their stories reminded me of the importance of collective effort, and this principle has guided my initiatives in expanding programs, mobilizing resources, and championing women’s narratives in technology and human rights sectors.”
How did you continue empowering women and working towards gender equality after finishing LEAD Course?
“I co-founded ‘Women Leaders in Technology’ (WLiT) with a vision of women’s leadership bringing positive change in the tech industry in Nepal. Even after transitioning out of WLiT in 2021, my dedication to promoting gender equality in STEM has not waned. I’ve taken on a significant role in the Advisory Committee for the FREE STEM Fund by Women Win, a Netherlands-based non-profit. This commitment has further been bolstered through my participation in the ‘Hidden No More’ program, a Women in STEM exchange initiative led by the US Department of State’s IVLP. Moreover, my advisory role in FRIDA, the Young Feminist Fund, allows me to be at the forefront of championing young feminist causes globally.
I also took the co-leadership helm at ‘ExtraordiNAARI’, an initiative that amplifies young women’s voices using comedy as a medium for storytelling.”
“While the LEAD Course provided foundational insights, my tenure on the board of ‘Women LEAD Nepal’ has had a pronounced influence on my leadership style. This experience emphasized the virtues of patience, understanding, and empathy in leadership. In roles subsequent to Women LEAD, such as my position on the board of local organizations, this patient and understanding approach became even more vital as my approach has always been to anticipate team needs and offer proactive support.
Moreover, these experiences have reshaped my perspective on participation. I’ve become more inclined to volunteer in movements I hold dear, not always as a leader, but often as an ally. Recognizing that sometimes the most impactful way to support a cause is by amplifying voices from the sidelines and offering resources and energy without seeking the limelight.”
Could you share your journey of becoming the President of Women LEAD Nepal's Board? What motivated you to take on this role?
“As I served as Vice-President for four years, I was intimately involved in the organization’s evolution and was privy to the various challenges and opportunities that arose, especially during its transitional phase. That last year of vice-presidency was particularly formative, shedding light on the intricacies and nuances of organizational change.
Given my tenure and the institutional memory I carried, I felt a responsibility and an urge to shepherd the organization through this transformative period. Taking on the mantle of the President seemed like the next logical step in my journey with Women LEAD. This position has not only been a profound learning experience but has deepened my connection and affection for Women LEAD. More than ever, it has reinforced my belief in the unparalleled power of investing in young women’s leadership and the potential for transformative change they embody.”
What advice would you give to young women who aspire to become leaders and make a positive impact in their communities?
“Undoubtedly, mentors possess a wealth of knowledge and experience that can guide you, but don’t underestimate the power of peer learning. Engage actively with your contemporaries. Their diverse perspectives and experiences can offer invaluable insights that might be distinct from traditional mentorship. As you support and collaborate with your peers in their endeavors and activism, you not only enrich their journey but also broaden your own horizons. Leadership is as much about learning from those alongside you as it is from those who’ve walked before you.”
In your experience, what role does mentorship and networking play in advancing women's leadership and empowerment?
“There is so much more in the world than what we know about being a leader. This is especially true when we do not have people around us in our reach as family, friends, and seniors to play this role. Mentorship can help broaden our reach and networks, and to broaden our perspectives, all the things that make our personal and professional journey a lot easier.”
As a very active member of the Women LEAD community yourself, what according to you keeps this community united and close?
“Every individual that the WLEAD team welcomes aboard carries a palpable drive, compassion, and innate leadership potential. This unified drive ensures we are not just working alongside each other but moving in tandem towards a common goal. Our collective belief in fostering young women’s leadership, as I’ve personally witnessed and contributed to over the years, fosters a sense of belonging and trust.”