Encounter with Janaki Pradhan Shrestha
Janaki Pradhan Shrestha, in her mid-forties, is a leading business woman as well as mentor of Lalitpur district. Though having tied her nuptial knot at an early age of 16, she has been involved in various activities including entrepreneurship, training, manufacturing silk clothes and handicrafts for more than two decades.
She is the president of Leading Women’s Association and executive committee member of Nepal Women’s Chamber.
The credit for weaving first silk sari in Nepal goes to Janaki, who produced a silk sari for the first time in Nepal by using indigenous raw materials some two decades ago.
During her childhood, a question which always used to pinch her was, “Why my mother didn’t earn money like my father?” She saw her mother, though capable to work, asking money with the father, which made her pursue jobs at an early age.
Shortly after completing her SLC exams, the Janaki went to school for teaching. “I enjoyed teaching at school for about five years and then I roamed around various offices for 4-5 years,” she recalls.
“At that time I became familiar with various problems facing Nepalese women, which inspired me to think about helping them and resolving their problem.”
She joined a silk training programme conducted at the initiative of UNDP Nepal office in 2051 B.S. After receiving the training, Janaki started providing silk train to other women with a little money she had collected. “At that time we succeeded to impart silk training to some 40 women, who were also provided with Rs. 500 cash incentive and also tiffin,” says Janaki.
After successfully conducting the training she then selected 25 women from among them and started a silk weaving factory forming a team of women. In around 2060 B.S. she produced 200 gram silk sari in her factory. This was the first silk sari produced within the country.
However, she had to shut down the silk factory after 4,5 years, due to lack of raw materials.
Janaki is still involved in producing silk clothes by acquiring raw materials through outsourcing. Many people, who received training from her are still working for producing silk clothes.
“I believe in work and women empowerment comes only when she can work and earn money,” says Janaki. Since then I have never been left without work, she adds.
During the corona pandemic also, she didn’t remain idle without work. “During the Covid – 19 lockdown I trained women to make PPE, mask and sanitizers,” she recalls. I didn’t only train them , but also helped to find out market for their products, says Janaki. She has travelled some 60 districts across the country to impart various training to women. “I feel proud when I meet women from remote areas of my country who were trained by me,” says Janaki. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction and I enjoy helping the needy women.”
During the Corona period she even facilitated around forty women to get bank loan of upto Rs. 4 million to establish small scale industries.
She was awarded Women’s Prestige Award 2021 by Delhi Lions Club of New Delhi, India as recognition for her social works and contribution towards empowering women. She is currently working for the promotion of non-violence silk. We can extract silk without killing the worm as per the new technology and I believe that we can extract the same quality of silk without harming the worm and in future I will dedicate myself in the project, said Janaki talking briefly to The Nepal Weekly.