#16Days: Prakash Koirala talks girls' financial inclusion

To mark 16 Days of Activism, we're shining a spotlight on inspiration activists from around the world. Prakash Koirala is a young Nepalese activist working on girls' financial inclusion as a Country Committee Member of Child and Youth Finance International, and Joint Secretary of the Artha Foundation.

Prakash shares his own activism story, and explains why financial education and inclusion are essential for improving the lives of women & girls...

What kind of activism work are you involved in?
Prakash

My activism work is around girls’ financial education – I work with girls to empower them to earn, save and invest from an early age. It's a way to plug them in to the economy and get them charged up, to help them access finance and economic opportunities.

I want to help eliminate the economic/financial barriers facing by communities, children, youth, but mostly women and girls. A critical first step is arming women with financial education, because proper financial education will create long-lasting, sustainable change.

At present, around 50% of Nepali girls find it difficult to talk with others about personal finances. The projects I work on teach the basics of financial literacy and the virtues of being financially prepared.

Changing attitudes, capacity building, teaching soft skills & awareness of options and can help unlock young people’s abilities and enable all girls to walk free with greater dignity.

Wy is financial inclusion so improtant for women & girls?

All people need financial education – but the need is even greater for women and girls. Women tend to take primary responsibility for raising children & allocation of household resources – they are key to passing to financial habits to their children.

Success will mean that women and girls can invest more in their families and their communities. These are outcomes that are sure to benefit everyone.

How did you get involved in activism? What inspired you?

Growing up, I was taught that without money management I really could not make it in Nepal. Money was the key to the future. Yet, I also remember thinking that money was something for very smart and very wealthy people. My surrounding, however, continually told me that if I was taught early in school and got good saving habits in the home, I could save money to help to pay for college and save for fulfilling basic needs.

Just getting out and meeting girls helps me feel more connected, happy and confident. It’s such a wonderful experience meeting diverse young people with an eagerness to learn, form new friendships and grow in financial confidence.

I built strong commitments inside myself to be aware about money management, and I got a vision to teach my community about money management, to cultivate their desire to live without financial burden. I joined Child and Youth Finance International in 2013, and since then I’ve been working as a Committee Member in Nepal. I did not make the journey here alone - numerous people have supported me along the way. 

Just getting out and meeting girls helps me feel more connected, happy and confident. It’s such a wonderful experience meeting diverse young people with an eagerness to learn, form new friendships and grow in financial confidence.

What are the main challenges to girls' financial inclusion?
rakash delivering a workshop for the Artha Foundation with Nepalese young people

rakash delivering a workshop for the Artha Foundation with Nepalese young people

Lack of education is a huge barrier to financial exclusion. In Nepal, keeping girls in school beyond puberty is a major challenge. Poor, illiterate girls and women have little access to resources and opportunities.

Attitudes are part of the problem. Girls’ education is not a priority for many families in rural areas of Nepal. Even in urban areas, family spent more money towards their daughters’ marriage ceremonies than on education and leadership. Water, sanitation & hygiene is also an issue. According to UNICEF, only around a third of schools have separate toilets for girls, which contributes to drop-out rates among adolescents.

What's currently being done to tackle these challenges?

Right now, a door-to-door campaign by of Ministry of Education has dramatically boosted school numbers, but there’s still a need for combining financial awareness with sensitization/punitive action around the need for quality education.

This has to happen in a well-concerted way to cope with the current demanding situation. Our decision-makers need to commit to seeking Breaking the current political deadlock is the key to unlocking a better future for girls.

How can we support girls and young women to become financially empowered?
We have to empower girls to learn economic citizenship rights - this should start from their homes. Family members have to start take care of their girls in each and every footstep.

First of all, local leaders have to take the initiative to run technology-friendly, user-friendly & accessible education hubs Policymakers and bureaucrats have to show the commitment to foster these sorts of projects, as well a community-based social entrepreneurship centres.

We have to empower girls to learn economic citizenship rights - this should start from their homes. Family members have to start take care of their girls in each and every footstep.

As a society, let’s start to take care of our girls wholeheartedly - mother, wives, sisters, girlfriends and all others - and make a habit of it forever and always. This is what matters!

See the rest of our #16Days activist spotlight series here.


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