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The idea for the Association for Dalit Women’s Advancement of Nepal (ADWAN) was first born when Bishnu Maya Pariyar, a Dalit woman from the Gorkha District of Nepal, began organizing Women’s Groups to challenge the caste system and empower women of all backgrounds. Trusting the wisdom of women, regardless of caste, to define what works best in their village, Bishnu applied this grassroots approach in formally establishing ADWAN in 1998 as a registered nonprofit in Kathmandu. Through the implementation of livelihood programs, human rights workshops, and practices designed to promote the dignity of all human beings, ADWAN has been engaged in the important work of overcoming the barriers of caste and gender discrimination among all marginalized women in Nepal for the past twenty years.


In 2015, Bishnu founded Friends of ADWAN Nepal (FAN), a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit, to serve as the fundraising arm of ADWAN in the United States. Based in Boston, FAN works in concert with ADWAN to raise funds for its programs and to promote its vision of human dignity and the empowerment of low-caste and marginalized women. Together, FAN and ADWAN serve169 women’s self-help groups in Gorkha, Kailali, Chitwan, Rupandehi, Palpa, Baglung Gulmi and Tanahu. Currently, there are more than four thousands Dalit and marginalized women involved in these women groups. These rural women are true agents of change in the society where social ills such as caste-based discriminations, gender-based violence and inequalities are holding back their dignity and prosperity. In addition, FAN and ADWAN support numerous children affiliated with the Women’s Groups through sponsorship programs and educational opportunities.

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