Dr. Preeti Shakya is a medical doctor, writer and advocate for the health and wellbeing of girls and women in her country of Nepal. She’s the founder of incluSHEive, and has been a member of Girls’ Globe for several years.
What brought you to start your new initiative incluSHEive, in support of women’s health in Nepal?
Women’s health differs from that of men in unique ways. These differences are further exacerbated in developing countries like Nepal, by factors like structural gender oppression, poverty, cultural norms and practices imposed upon girls and women leading to poor health care access and outcomes. Of all the factors that influence a woman`s health, lack of access to factual, evidence-based information is a major determinant. Hence, I started incluSHEive with an aim to leverage the power of digital media to advocate, educate and empower girls and women in Nepal with factual information regarding their holistic, integrative health and well-being.
Our mission is to enable them to make informed decisions about their own health, exert control over their bodies and exercise their right to health. We envision to empower girls and women to be their own best health and wellness advocates, to challenge the gender narratives, and to ensure a more gender- inclusive world.
In what way has your profession as a medical doctor influenced your activism for women’s and girls’ health in Nepal?
As a doctor, I bear daily witness to serious health disparities among girls and women as they continue to lag behind in a number of areas, including quality of care, access to care, and outcomes. I have always had a strong desire to advocate on behalf of them.
During my practice, I realized besides providing care, being a physician also placed me in a powerful position to champion their health and well-being. I realized my potential to impact those within my sphere and beyond and how I could make the most of my knowledge and expertise in the field to empower other women. Hence- incluSHEieve was born which aims to improve women`s health through education and advocacy.
You’ve been an individual member of Girls’ Globe for several years now, how has the Girls’ Globe community supported you in developing your activism?
Girls` Globe has been very instrumental in shaping my activism and fueling my passion for the same. Over the years, it has served as a platform for me and many activists like me to amplify our voices, to lead change, take action and build movements for realizing the rights of girls and women around the world.
The work of my fellow activists, advocates and changemakers have inspired me to take the lead to start my own initiative now and stand up for the cause I believe in. The support pouring down from them have been tremendous and a perfect example of global solidarity, the very belief that Girls’ Globe firmly stands for itself.
What is one thing our global audience can do today to support your movement building?
The problem of inequalities in health is multifactorial, deep-seated and closing this gap requires concerted, sustained and systematic efforts at many levels; international, national, and local. I think one thing our global audience can do is to take an interest in learning about the health disparities that exist in my part of the world, raise their voices, and become an advocate themselves or an ally.
Standing up for the rights of girls and women seems more important than ever given the powerful forces pushing back against advances towards gender equality.