Where We Work: Asia and Oceania
Peace First’s work in Asia began in 2018 when a group of young social change leaders in Nepal reached out for support with their work for democracy and educational equity. Since then, we’ve supported a rapidly growing base of young leaders across Asia and Oceania, with a large concentration of young leaders in South Asia, particularly India and Nepal. Our support has helped young people create integration and mental health support programs for refugees, take action for sustainability and stronger climate policy and mount major education reforms in collaboration with national governments. Our team in Asia has particularly focused on reaching young people in rural regions, running Peace First Lab tours in outlying communities to engage and support young people often not served by social change programs.
In Nepal, less than half of adolescent girls have adequate knowledge about menstruation, and only one in ten practices good menstrual hygiene. Adolescent girls’ inability to effectively manage menstrual hygiene affects their education, physical health, psychological and emotional well-being, and general quality of life.
Raziya grew up in a small village in Rampur, Palpa, Nepal. She got her period when she was 13 years old and recalls the experience as terrifying as she had no idea what was happening to her body. The fear was compounded by a sense of alienation and shame. Raziya felt that it was not appropriate for her to talk about what’s happening even to her mother, so she resorted to using old dirty rags as a substitute for sanitary napkins.
When Yulan moved to Kathmandu for his higher secondary education, he learned that gender based violence is not just about physical assaults but the sexual, mental and spiritual trauma faced by women. He began to understand that whatever he witnessed in his village was all part of a deeply rooted patriarchal society that simply rejected the idea of supporting the independence and agency of young women. So, during his term break, whenever he returned to his village, he used to volunteer with different organizations, conduct interviews with self-help groups and informal mothers’ groups to research and learn more about this injustice. Based on these interviews and several training and volunteering opportunities he received, Yulan was motivated to create a comprehensive training module that focused on gender based violence and sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).
Marwah began her changemaking journey volunteering at an event serving children with disabilities. She recalls finding joy being among children and feeling inspired by their tenacity and their commitment to work towards their dreams despite belonging to a vulnerable group. Her volunteer experience sparked a passion for working with young children - a passion that guided her career choices moving forward. At her position as a manager in her university’s Future Leaders chapter, in Malang, Indonesia, she grew to love project management and design thinking and focused those skills to designing projects to respond to the pressing need to provide quality education to children in rural areas.
Fellow in Residence & Regional Manager
Sushmina Baidya is a nonprofit leader and youth movement builder, who comes to Peace First from leading ‘We’ For Change, the largest youth-led nonprofit in Nepal. Under Sushmina’s leadership, ‘We’ For Change has grown to a dedicated base of over 200 volunteers leading 50 programs and initiatives designed to advocate for issues important to young people and improve conditions for youth throughout Nepal, including leading free HIV testing campaigns and distributing over 10,000 condoms across Nepal, providing ‘School on Wheels’ to over 12,000 children whose schools were damaged by recent earthquakes, and leading multiple sustainability and climate change advocacy campaigns. In 2018, with a grant from Peace First, Sushmina and ‘We’ For Change led a 2-day intensive Peace Jamboree, using sport to spark conversations about government accountability and peacebuilding, bringing together dozens of young people from Kathmandu and Saptari. Sushmina has traveled the world to speak about her work with We for Change, including at the MISK Global Forum and World Government Summit. Sushmina -- whose activism began at 14 when she led school-wide protests against unjust academic tracking policies -- is excited to build a movement of young people building peace across Asia and Oceania.