For Muslims in Nepal, worldly affairs look bleak at times. Nepal’s Islamic minority suffer from discrimination, economic and social disenfranchisement, and a lack of educational access. But that didn’t stop one sister from defying the odds, and doing her thing.
Meet Mohna Ansari, a Muslim sister from Nepal, who fought her way through an unjust system, became the first in her family to attend college, and now bears the honor of being Nepal’s first Muslim woman law graduate. (Say ma shaa Allah, because, wow!).
Ansari, originally from Nepalgunj, attended Mahendra Multiple College, where her schooling focused on government, with an incorporation of Islamic studies. After college, it took longer for her career to take off in comparison to other law graduates. She represented clients in her neighborhood, which was a low-income neighborhood.
Ansari later dedicated her career to human rights by working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits. She then went on to work at the National Women’s Commission (NWC) for a few years, and now serves as a spokesperson for the Nepal Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Not only is she a boss professionally, she brings her dedication to the social media scene in a larger than life way. Her Twitter account is filled with tweets on human rights, social justice, inequality, and foreign affairs.
Her campaigning isn’t limited to Twitter; Ansari frequently puts herself on the frontline of some tough battles. This woman is as fearless as those climbing her national landmark of Mount Everest. In her latest uphill battle, she went head to head with Nepal’s Prime Minister, Sharma Oli. Apparently, he was none too happy with her when she revealed the truth about the state of Nepal’s human rights at a United Nations Council conference in Geneva, Switzerland. She not only stood her ground during this confrontation, but in response to it, she continued her campaign online to let the world know about the human rights violations happening in Nepal.
Muslims make up less than five percent of Nepal’s population, while Hindus make up the majority. Its literacy rate is relatively low nation-wide, and the literacy rate within the Muslim community is even lower. When gender inequality is thrown in the mix, these obstacles are even harder for Muslim women to overcome. As her career developed, Ansari prioritized fighting for the rights of women in Nepal.
As a role model for women in her country, her work has been rightfully recognized. In fact, in 2012, she earned a Presidential medal for her contribution to public service, in addition to receiving the Nava Devi award, which is awarded to women role models in Nepal.
We could use a few more movers and shakers like Ansari, whose work and dedication to women’s rights empower and inspire the women of Nepal–and women everywhere.
Written by Rajaa Elidrissi