A leader in the making

Ratni Rana Magar - Credit: Amuse Communications/Oxfam
"Had I understand things better I would not have gotten married at the age of fifteen."
Ratni Rana Magar

When Ratni Rana Magar, from Lekhparajuli, Surkhet, got married at the age of fifteen, her life changed drastically. She failed to complete her studies and got busy taking care of her 9-member joint family which includes her 3-year-old son and an aging grandmother-in-law.  But at the age of twenty her life took a turn for the better.

A Discussion Centre was established in her village by Oxfam’s partner Women Association for Marginalized Women (WAM). Since Ratni studied up to class 10, she got selected as treasurer. At the Centre she learned skills training such as stool making. 

Ratni also joined campaigns against child marriage, domestic violence and untouchability. “I have always been interested in social work and now I got shown the way.  Women have to come out and ask for their rights.  They should be more active and not just be happy with what they are told to do,” says Ratna.

By now the young farmer is the chair of the Ward Citizen Forum. She is trained in programme planning and budget allocation. In her one year tenure, she plans to open at least one Child Care Centre in her village. She also lobbies for road construction and improved drinking water. 

Ratni’s family supports her interest in pursuing social work.  Her husband is behind her and her in-laws share the household work.  But society is a different thing.  “Society does not support me in the way my family does,” says Ratni. “They make derogatory remarks like ‘Here comes Ratni our leader’.   But when I hear that I get more determined to go ahead.”

The young farmer's new life is much more than about being a mother and caretaker. She thinks she should try passing the class 10 exams:  “I need to build my capacity, and I need to attend more workshops and seminars. I want to progress further.”

Ratni is one of the many beneficiaries of Oxfam's Women's Leadership Programme (WLP). This story and many others can be found in 'Towards Independence', a collection of case studies showing the impact of WLP's activities on the lives of individual women in Makwanpur and Surkhet. 

Written by Amuse Communications