Lily Thapa

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2003
Women for Human Rights


This profile was prepared when Lily Thapa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Lily is breaching the strong, family-enforced social customs that separate widows from participation in the citizen sector. She invites widows to emerge and join the company of their peers. The groups give the widow–or single women, a term that Lily prefers to the heavily symbolic "widow"–a chance to grieve together and learn how to speak out and deal with the social and economic barriers they face. In the process, the women recast themselves from the role of unwanted and unlucky burden into citizens who once again stand on equal ground with other women. Lily is training them to have more economic independence and also to take a vocal and active part in public life. The women, particularly those widowed by the insurgency, bring a special legitimacy as influences for peace in their society's attempts to end civil strife. Their participation also encourages communities to examine their traditions with sensitivity to the effects of arbitrary social exclusions.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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