Nicole Farkouh

Nicole Farkouh (Collective Campaign for Peace – COCAP): Nicole graduated from Smith College with a BA in Cultural Anthropology. She also has a Master of Education from the University of New Orleans. Nicole’s professional background is in education. She has worked as a teacher, administrator, and consultant, mainly with middle school students with special needs. She is also a certified community mediator and has studied a complementary model of mediation based on Non-Violent Communication. She has studied abroad in India, lived and taught in Mexico. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for a Master of Public Policy degree at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. After her fellowship, Nicole wrote: "More than anything, this summer I received a new level of understanding /appreciation for the complexity involved in “development” and “human rights” work…. Particularly being a foreign body trying to work in a new culture."


20 Sep

Since moving to Kathmandu I’ve spent most of my time helping the Madheshi Women’s Advocacy Forum (MWAF) get up and running. The MWAF was created as a result of the Madheshi Women’s National Conference held by Sarita Giri (both written about in my earlier blogs), and is a network of grassroots women leaders in districts across the Terai region dedicated to the social, economic, and political empowerment of Madheshi women.

The immediate initiative of the MWAF is to help Madheshi women’s political empowerment during the upcoming Constitutional Assembly Election. We have three short term goals:

1. To push for large numbers of Madheshi women candidates in constituencies across the Terai.
2. To educate Madheshi women at local levels about the upcoming election and democracy in general.
3. To mobilize voters to support qualified Madheshi women candidates and get them elected.

Right now we are implementing a 3-phase plan focused on the first goal.

To keep up the momentum from the National Conference and to begin working toward our goal of getting Madheshi women on the ballot we scheduled a MWAF National Steering Committee meeting in Kathmandu (Phase 1). On 9-11 September we brought the women leaders to Kathmandu from each of the 21 districts to launch the national campaign, “Win with Madheshi Women,” and for organizing sessions about Phase 2. The campaign launch was a big success and brought together the press, women leaders from many backgrounds, and high-level political party members to offer their support for the movement.


The second part of the National Steering Committee Meeting was sessions to help district leaders plan for Phase 2: District Level “Accountability Meetings.” The purpose of these meetings is to pressure local chapters of political parties to commit to running Madheshi female candidates.

The outcome of the planning sessions was a little more mixed than the campaign launch. To begin with, the mixed electoral system of proportional representation and direct election being used in Nepal’s coming election is complicated even for those familiar with democratic processes, let alone people who are entirely new to the practice of voting.

On top of that, it turns out that the concepts and strategies we are trying to impart to our district leaders are quite challenging. Examples include strategically playing political parties against each other to increase the number of women candidates they commit to running and identifying for potential candidates that are currently not involved in party politics yet that might appeal to a wide range of people. The task of helping these women influence a system they don’t fully understand combined with the fact that (like most groups) there is a range of participants, from superstar to those just along for the ride, made our sessions less of a resounding success than I would have liked.


An additional problem I’m struggling with is the lack of original and critical thinking done by many of our district leaders. There seems to be a very strong cultural propensity in Nepal to defer to hierarchy – and I’ve experienced this being particularly intense among women. (Sarita is incredibly different in this regard, and I think this is why I appreciate working with her so much.)

As much as Sarita and I tried to give our district leaders theory to guide their own strategy formation, practically we ended up needing to be a lot more directive in providing specific tactics and even much more basic background information. Coming from a teaching background I understand the need to first teach to students and then guide them w/ varying levels of support before they can do something independently. Yet for some reason, working with adults makes this process seem unnecessary. The reality is that it is just as crucial, if not more so with adults, and I think if I can stay in that mindset it will help a lot.

Despite the difficulties of the planning sessions, the ongoing challenge of long distance communication in Nepal (ie. phone/fax), and the highly turbulent current political situation, our District Accountability meetings are scheduled to start from tomorrow. No doubt some will flop, but I do think there is the potential for many to be a success. The political parties are scheduled to publish their candidate lists on 30 September. Hopefully the District Accountability Meetings combined with our upcoming National Accountability Meeting (Phase 3) will produce lists loaded with quality Madheshi Women Candidates. Keep your fingers crossed for us…

Posted By Nicole Farkouh

Posted Sep 20th, 2014

1 Comment

  • Babak

    June 29, 2019


    Dear manager
    The collection Saraye Banoo began its activities in 2018. This collection began to help increase the ability of women and increase their equality. The collection also tries to give women equal rights. As well as their autonomy and empowerment.
    The goal is to increase the ability of women who are affected by social problems, who are involved directly and indirectly in this matter and who are unable to manage and maintain a healthy and equal social life.
    Our collection is active in a number of fields.
    Our collection activities include:
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    2. Helping women who are directly affiliated with the addiction disease or indirectly through their spouse or child with the issue of addiction.
    3. Assist women who have been jointly abused because of lack of recognition of their basic rights and lack of knowledge in the management of relationship problems. As a result, they have left a legal separation or separation between themselves and the wife under one roof.
    4. Helping to increase the physical and mental health of women in order to help them have a healthy life and away from their physical and mental illness.
    5. Helping to increase the scientific abilities of the members.
    In order to do this, due to the lack of financial resources and high costs, our services funded by earning income in various ways, such as the launch of garment manufacturing. We can also get the funds and work part of the covered people. On the other hand, we have allocated a part of the collection to the store, which shows the products and goods that the women covered are exhibiting at the store and earning revenue. And other activities that will be fully implemented at a later time.
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