Journalist and publisher Anju Chhetri has played a pivotal role in making the Nepali media useful, responsible, and accountable in its approach to women’s issues.
Anju Chhetri (born 1961) has been an energetic campaigner for women’s human rights through the Asmita Women’s Publishing House (AWPH), which she helped found. Through AWPH, the foremost feminist organization in Nepal, and her writings in the mainstream media, Anju has been a pioneer in raising nascent feminist issues in Nepal.
Anju Chhetri and her friends launched a women’s magazine, Asmita, in 1988 and set up a feminist media outlet, when nobody was writing about women’s issues in the Nepali media. Scholars, intellectuals, and policymakers had no access to women’s thoughts, concerns, and ideas. As editor, Anju identified issues, and researched and wrote thought-provoking articles even in the mainstream newspapers and magazines. Equal property rights for women, the right to abortion, sexuality, violence against women, and women’s right to health are among the issues that have been brought to the forefront of Nepali life. Their efforts led to a national civil code that replaced archaic laws prohibiting women ancestral property and the right to abortion. Always prolific, Anju has also been writing about political affairs, high corruption, government policies, development projects, the Maoist people’s war, ceasefires, and peace talks. From August 2001 to September 2003, she wrote 86 pieces for her weekly column in Kantipur, the country’s largest daily. Nepal is not journalist friendly. When Asmita was launched, the autocratic Panchayat (village council) system was in force and the mass media were largely state controlled. Anju and her colleagues were spared scrutiny because a women’s magazine was considered relatively harmless. They used the opportunity to espouse democracy, and women’s inarguable role in regaining their basic rights. While using the media to promote the cause of women’s rights, Anju does not demur from also using it to criticize the women’s movement and make it accountable to the public.
Asmita Women’s Publishing House (AWPH)
South Asia | Nepal