Home Country: Nepal
IDRC Support Received: Research Fellowship, Nepal Rastra Bank (1976)
Researcher, economist, and gender activist Meena Acharya is committed to improving the lives of Nepalese women.
Acharya had already earned post-graduate degrees in development studies and economics, and worked at Nepal’s Rastra Bank for 10 years when she applied for and received support from IDRC in 1976.
Her IDRC research fellowship allowed her to study the impact of economic policies on rural employment in Nepal – her research was one of only a few labour market studies focused on the country.
Acharya says this study “increased her awareness of Nepalese realities” and encouraged her to better understand how economic policies affect people’s lives.
She became particularly fascinated by how economic globalization both empowered and disempowered Nepalese women. For example, women in Nepal were encouraged to integrate into the global system, but minimal schooling gave them “little voice and prospects for improving their life options,” says Acharya.
She began to research how policies can improve the lives of Nepal’s women, and led studies for organizations such as UNIFEM, UNICEF, and the World Bank.
Acharya says she is especially proud of her efforts to improve women’s visibility in economic statistics – Nepal has been an international model of how to reform statistics to better show the economic contributions of women.
“The poor, the dispossessed, and women suffer most in any crisis. Since we have to use the market as a mechanism for growth, we have to make this growth for all, including women,” says Acharya.
She continues to work as a consultant and is also a resource person in the Women’s Studies Department at Padma Kanya Multiple College.
Acharya is also the General Secretary of the Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation, a non-governmental organization she helped establish. Through research and advocacy, it aims to contribute to Nepal’s democratic processes on issues of national importance.
Since its creation in 1992, the foundation has published material on equal citizenship rights for women, analyzed Nepal’s census from a gender perspective, and promoted quality education for girls and disadvantaged groups.