Nepali social worker, Indira Ranamagar, has been featured on the BBC 100 Women list 2017.
The founder of Prisoner’s Assistance Nepal, a non-profit organisation working for the welfare of prisoners and their children, has been named as one of the 100 most inspirational and influential women from across the world. The 47-year-old activist has spent 27 years helping prisoners and their children gain access to education, dignity and a safer childhood.
Born in a poor family in Eastern Nepal, Ranamagar was not able to attend school because she was a girl, while her brothers did. “I grew up in a small village. Our roof used to be not so strong and water was dripping, and life was very difficult. My brother used to go to school, but as a girl I was not sent to this school”, she said in an interview with BBC. “So when my brother used to do homework, I learned. But I had no pencil – now it’s everywhere, pencil – but I had no pencil to write and book also I didn’t have. So I used to write on the ground. I taught myself.”
When she finally was admitted in her village school, she topped her class. She continued doing well and became a school teacher. Few years later, she decided to move to Kathmandu which proved to be the turning point in her life, as she met and began to work with Parijat, a renowned writer and human rights activist.
Ranamagar joined Parijat’s movements for prisoners’ rights and started to know more about the judicial system of Nepal and the conditions in the prisons. Even after Parijat’s death in 1993, Ranamagar continued the work. However, she shifted her focus from political prisoners to the children of the prisoners who, too, had to live with their mothers in lack of other options.
She founded Prisoners Assistance Nepal in 2000 to provide help to prisoners in jail and to their family members, especially their children. She has rescued over 1600 children so far and saved them from growing up in prison.
Indira Ranamagar was one of the three finalist nominees for the 2014 World’s Children’s Prize, along with Malala Yousafzai and John Wood. While Malala had won the prize, Magar and Wood were honored with the honorary awards in Sweden.
“Every child should have house, every child should have food. They should have the right to live with dignity. That’s my fighting, that’s my dream.”, she told BBC. “There are mentally ill women living together [in the prisons], some aggressive women. The women fight, and children are around. So it’s not safe for the kids.”
According to a BBC release, the women featuring in their list are “taken from across all spheres of modern life – from engineering to the creative industries, from sport to business – they represent the global wealth of female talent.”
“The list has been inspired by the BBC 100 Women Challenge. New for 2017, this is a unique celebration of female talent which sees four teams of women tasked with finding solutions to everyday problems currently blighting female lives across the globe,” the release added.
The list, however, features 70 individuals so far with 30 more names to be added yet. Indira Ranamagar is the only Nepali to be featured on the prestigious list so far.