International Fellow to empower women in South Asia using strategies from YWCA Greater Charleston

November 28, 2017

On August 11, YWCA Greater Charleston welcomed Upaj Bhattarai, a program manager for Hope Nepal Association for Social Welfare (HNASW), to a four-month international fellowship at its Charleston office.

Visiting as a Community Solutions Program fellow from a multiethnic country in the Himalayan Mountains courtesy of the U.S. Department of State, Bhattarai had chosen YWCA Greater Charleston as his fellowship site because of its focus on the empowerment of women and girls.

It was his first time in America.

Prior to arriving in the U.S., Bhattarai designed and implemented projects at HNASW promoting child rights, gender equality, and anti-trafficking through community sensitization. He plans to return to his country on December 4 and immediately begin implementing projects to minimize violence against women by promoting women’s education, skills, and empowerment.

Particularly impressed by YWCA Greater Charleston’s Girls Who Code technology clubs and Backpacks to Briefcases career workshops for young women, he plans to implement similar initiatives upon his return to Nepal.

“My biggest takeaways from my time with YWCA Greater Charleston are strategies to empower women through economic advancement and gender parity,” he says.

Before preparing to leave the U.S., Bhatterai presented three sessions to the Charleston-area public about the work he has done in Nepal assisting women and children who have limited access to mainstream resources.

One attendee was particularly impressed with Bhattarai’s heart for the women and children of his country. “I attended Upaj’s presentation with a friend, and we were absolutely blown away by his commitment to being an advocate to the women and children of Nepal,” said Bernard Johnson, CEO of Progressive Adult Living, Inc.

“It was a great opportunity to come to such a historic city,” says Bhattarai. “My time in Charleston has been inspiring—I’ve had the chance to participate in YWCA Greater Charleston programs like the Racial Equity Institute, Girls Who Code, and Backpacks to Briefcases. Their 110 years of continuous, on-the-ground dedication to eliminating racism and empowering women is a great achievement, but though significant progress has been made, the fight for racial and gender equality still continues in Charleston and elsewhere. Discrimination in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation should not have any space in our generation.”

To schedule an interview with Upaj Bhattarai prior to his December 4 departure, please contact YWCA Greater Charleston Executive Director LaVanda Brown at [email protected] or 843.722.1644.



For 110 years, YWCA Greater Charleston has served women, children, and families in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties in its mission to empower women and eliminate racism. By engaging area residents and organizations, it seeks to create opportunities for the personal growth, leadership, and economic development of women and people of color in order to attain justice, freedom, and dignity for all people. It is a longstanding local association of YWCA USA, one of the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organizations in the United States. For over 150 years, YWCA USA has been at the forefront of most social movements—from civil rights, affordable housing, and pay equity to domestic violence prevention and healthcare reform. For more information, visit



The U.S. Department of State Community Solutions Program is a professional development program for the best and brightest global community leaders working on issues related to the environment, tolerance and conflict resolution, transparency and accountability, and women and gender. Community Solutions is a year-long program that includes a four-month fellowship at a U.S. community-based organization, government office, or legislative body. Through tailored, hands-on learning experiences and the Community Leadership Institute, fellows gain valuable experience in U.S.-based community work, increase skills and knowledge, strengthen their capacity for leadership and development in their home countries, bring years of experience to community development in the United States, and create action plans for community-based initiatives back home. For more information, visit