We are delighted to welcome Smriti RDN Neupane as this year’s IDS Graduate Scholarship Award winner. Smriti joined us in September 2021 and is studying the IDS MA in Governance, Development and Public Policy.
Smriti has almost a decade of experience working to resolve issues of home-based workers and women’s labour specific to unpaid care work, migration and sexual harassment against women and girls in public spaces, alongside issues of local climate change adaption. Her experience resonates with her aspiration to achieve gender equality and social inclusion in her home country Nepal.
Smriti is inspired and emboldened by the 2015 Constitution of Nepal and its promise of the creation of a more inclusive democracy by addressing longstanding inequalities based on gender, caste, class, ethnicity, and geography. She feels optimistic and motivated to contribute to strengthening the socio-economic and political systems in Nepal believing that for the system to be strong and reliable, there is a need for an enthusiastic and intellectual group of young people to be committed to social transformation. Smriti intends to be part of this transformation.
“I strive to understand emerging issues, explore existing interventions,and challenge decision makers to bring existing issues to the forefront of developmental debates. This outcome, I hope, will be the enactment of a better and sustainable policy response towards creating a just Nepali society.”
Academic and life experiences prior to IDS
Through her bachelor’s degree in social work, Smriti gained a solid academic understanding of social inequality, poverty, underlying discriminations of patriarchal structures and the importance of good governance in development processes.
Her passion to progress gender equality grew in 2010 while working with HomeNet Nepal, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving decent work opportunities for home-based working women. This experience inspired Smriti to undertake an MA in Gender Studies in 2011. Shortly afterwards she became an action researcher with ActionAid Nepal, helping to reduce gender-based violence and the burden of unpaid care work among the rural and urban-poor communities of Nepal.
“While working on the action research, I came to have a deeper understanding of the enriching energy and power provided by the networks of individuals sharing a common purpose. It gave me strength and determination to always move forward together towards social transformation.”
Throughout these experiences, Smriti worked with communities and local governments to promote and facilitate good governance through the use of various planning and public audit tools.
“I began to understand the importance of having a deeper theoretical understanding of governance and public policy to bring about positive social change in Nepal through working with local municipalities.”
With a focus on gender equality and social inclusion, Smriti worked through Helvetas Nepal with local municipalities in Nepal’s Provinces 1 and 3 helping to facilitate the growth of knowledge and skills to build a comprehensive five-year plan of action.
Studying at IDS and future aspirations
“I believe my master’s course at IDS will enable me to contribute to the establishment of democratically oriented economic and social systems aimed at addressing inequalities in Nepal, simultaneously offering myself a better understanding gender issues from a governance perspective which I can apply beyond a pure academic inquiry.”
Smriti’s future goals include exploring sustainable responses to materialize positive social change in Nepal for women where they are not only the recipients of the process, but frontiers of development. Her scholarship at IDS will help to ensure Smriti achieves these goals, and many more.
“So far, I have had a supportive and non-judgmental learning experience in IDS, different from what I have experienced in my previous academic environments. Despite the difficulties due to pandemic and me not being able to physically attend classes, my tutors and lecturers at IDS have, since the beginning, supported and engaged me in my learning process effectively through online platforms. I feel nourished with their positive energy, compassion and encouragement towards me. I really look forward to the coming semester and strive to have even better learning experience.”
We wish Smriti every success for her studies at IDS and her future beyond.
About the IDS Graduate Scholarship
We want to ensure that the most able students have the opportunity to study at IDS and go on to effect global change. We offer a number of full-time scholarship places on our international development Masters degrees. These include the IDS Graduate Scholarship 2021 which is available to encourage high achieving scholars from the Global South to study for a master’s degree.
IDS Graduate Scholarships are supported by a number of generous funders including IDS Alumni, the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, the Dr Purna Chander Kotagiri Fund and the Albertina Fund. The scholarships are available to international students from low- or lower-middle-income countries who have accepted a full-time place on an IDS master’s degree. Priority is given to students who have the greatest potential to make a difference in their home countries after completing the degree.