Introducing Women in Transport Sector in Nepal

Women have been engaging in all sectors of the economy and social affairs. However, there is a very disproportionate representation of women in the transport sector work force. Through many hurdles and challenges, many have lead their dream in different sector contributing to make our infrastructure and services, and practices more inclusive, safe, friendly and progressive.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2021 we are introducing Women who have been contributing to transport sector from grassroot user as pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle driver to engineers, advocates, policy makers and change makers.  

A report by ActionAid Nepal shows reports that more than half of women in Nepal feel unsecure while travelling in public transportation or walking around in bus stand. Nearly 63% female respondents feared travelling in public transportation and considered it as the most unsafe means to travel. While the responsibility to improve this lies on the shoulders of all people, this International Women’s Day we, SSTN, are celebrating the wonderful works done and achieved by many woman working in this field from Nepal.

Let’s see what they have to say about their journey .. .












Civil Aviation
Dept. of Roads
Dept. of Railways
Road Safety
And many more...

“It is my pleasure to get this opportunity to express my warm wishes to all Women on the occasion of the UN Women’s Day. First of all, I would like to honor the efforts dedicated to raising and addressing Gender Issues for the better social, economic and political status in modern society. These issues are even very relevant in the context of many developing countries like Nepal, where women are the main target of social violence, deprived of equal social, economic opportunities. I would like to request all women who have successfully achieved higher social, political, and professional positions to consider the cases from the remote rural areas where women are not equally treated and deprived of basic education and health services.

Happy Women’s Day to all the incredible women! Shine on. Not just today but everyday”

Thusitha Chandani Shahi, PhD
Director, Nepal Engineering College, Centre for Post Graduate Studies 

 Shine on. Not just today but everyday 

” I have served the Nepal Police force for 30 years. Our team of ladies traffic police were the first female traffic Police of Nepal. Working as a traffic police, I realized the importance of traffic management and road safety. Then onwards I have always been interested in this matter and have been involved in this sector directly or indirectly.
In the time when the police force was considered merely a man’s job, I joined the Nepal Police force. Back then there were hardly any females and being in so considered man’s sector was a day-to-day challenge. Most of the time people’s opinion towards a policewoman used to discourage me but with all the support from my family members especially my grandmother, I kept working with full dedication and as a result was honored with one of the most prestigious awards of Nepal Suprabala-Gorkha-Dakshina-Bahu award.
I encourage you all to follow your dreams, be independent, and never get discouraged by others opinions.  “

Rashmi Shrestha
Ret. Deputy Superintendent of Police, Nepal Police

  I encourage you all to follow your dreams, be independent, and never get discouraged by others’ opinions 

As one of the members of SSTN, I have been involving in various road safety awareness programs, researches, trainings etc., on enhancement of transportation sectors, which has  helped me overview and understand the scenario of transport sector and road safety of Nepal thoroughly. 

Apart from this, I worked as a District Road Maintenance Engineer for one year in Rupandehi district. As a DRME, I was responsible for road maintenance. Working In the field of transportation engineering has always been a great learning experience for me. I am delighted that, I am working on one of the crucial fields and believe that my small contribution towards this field will bring some changes, gradually.   

I have always looked myself as an engineer more than a woman engineer and wonder why only few women are engaged in this field.  Reflecting on my own experiences, I can assure that, we can always learn and do better in this field irrespective of who we are (male or female).”

Surakshya Kafle
Executive Member, SSTN
Executive Director, SR Group

I can assure that, we can always learn and do better in this field irrespective of who we are (male or female).

” Whenever I think about women in transport sector, the first picture that comes to my mind is that of a woman Safa Tempo driver or a woman cyclist in Terai. It is even more empowering to see women safa tempo drivers challenging patriarchy, being financially independent and contributing to lower carbon emissions knowingly and unknowingly by driving an eco-friendly vehicle.

Being an advocate for gender equality & women empowerment, I respect and feel proud of all the women Safa tempo drivers in Kathmandu. Safe tempo is not just an environment-friendly vehicle, it is also a symbol of women empowerment. I believe, in promoting sustainable transportation and think that there is an ample of opportunity for women, especially from poor economic background. Promoting women Safa tempo drivers would not just empower other women but also help contribute to lowering carbon emissions and in making our environment pollution free. 

Women should be capacitated on gender equality, sustainable transportation, and climate change so that they can be an agent of change. Working as a climate change ambassador for 2021, I plan to contribute my part in taking forward the idea of raising awareness about women in sustainable transportation. Afterall, women are the best educators and eco-friendly transports are an important part of meeting global goals of climate change. “

Binaya Parajuli
Gender Affairs Officer, UNEP
GYCN Climate Ambassador 2021

  women are the best educators 

“I have been working in the field of transportation for the past 9 years. I had worked on a project for Strengthening the National Rural Transport Program (SNRTP) as a national consultant from International Labor Organization. Now I am working at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and am a lifetime member of Safe and Sustainable Travel Nepal (SSTN) a non-profit organization, actively working for the development of safe and sustainable transportation in Nepal.

Working in this field of transportation engineering has given me an opportunity to travel to different places of Nepal and to have a closer look at the state of this field which showed that currently, women are under-represented. This may be because of the perception that it is very difficult to work in this field as a woman. But the few women working in this field are changing this narrative. They are doing great work and advancing in their careers. 

I would like to encourage more women to join us. Don’t let your fear stop you if you want to join this sector. It’s a challenging sector with complex problems to solve but you get a chance to grow and will find lots of opportunities. We have many competent women who have the potential to advance the state of transportation in Nepal. We will change the narrative with action.”

Sambriddhi Shrestha
Lifetime Member, SSTN
Senior Officer, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal

Don’t let your fear stop you…. we will change the narrative with action

” My prior and present experience involve research, teaching and consulting works in transport sector for more than ten years. Some of my notable works as a key researcher include several international transportation and logistics-related projects funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Qatar Foundation. Currently, I am a full-fledged faculty in Pulchowk Campus and a research coordinator at Center for Infrastructure Development Studies. Further, I am also involved in various transport planning, design and policy making projects with National Planning Commission, Roads Board Nepal and Department of Roads. 

With no doubt, there are ample number of opportunities in transport sector both in national as well as international context. I believe women, naturally blessed with a different way of thinking, can definitely bring a diverse perspective and have a potential to contribute in variety of domain in this sector. I have seen my female students/scholars equally excel in critical thinking and problem solving, and would like to see them grow and be a changemaker of the society. “

Rojee Pradhananga, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pulchowk Campus, Institute of Engineering

  … I would like to see them grow and be a changemaker of the society 

“Flying was my dream. With support from my family (financially and emotionally), I went to an aviation school in United States at the age of 18. After completing the course, I came back to Nepal and started working for Buddha Air (from 2008, till date). In aviation, we are pilots irrespective of our gender. 

It’s a challenging job; weather is the main hurdle. I accepted these challenges to fly a machine. To the new generation, I just want to say – follow your dreams, that is what I did. Never stop dreaming and work hard. Aviation is the safest means of transportation. I am proud to serve my nation and my duty is to port the passengers from point A to B (i.e., to their destination safe). “

Capt. Reeta Pyakurel
Flight Captain, Buddha Air 

Never stop dreaming and work hard

“With an academic background in Civil Engineering and Master’s in Transportation Engineering, I have been working in transportation engineering field since 2008. As an Engineer for Swiss Government funded District Road Support Program, I was involved in environment sensitive, labor based technology for road construction with policies of 50% women participation, no child labor and equal pay for equal works. I was also involved as a Lecturer at National College of Engineering which provided a conducive environment of knowledge sharing of Safe and Sustainable Transport among present and future engineers.  

In 2015, I worked as a Project Support Engineer – II for Strengthening the National Rural Transport which involved detailed design and construction supervision of roads with consideration to safety aspects. Since 2020, I have been working as a researcher at Nepal Injury Research Center (in Partnership with Kathmandu Medical College and University of West of England) for Road Safety Research Priorities Project whose main objective is to support evidence based policy making for a safe systems approach to road safety in Nepal. I have also been involved in different road safety activities as a member of Safe and Sustainable Travel Nepal. I believe that every individual contribution can make a difference.”

Pranita Rana
Researcher, Nepal Injury Research Center 
Member, SSTN 

Every individual contribution can make a difference

” Dream … Believe …

We all, as a road user, might share a bitter memory on the road. Being a civil engineer, I have always dreamt to work in the field of road safety. Following my dream, I ended up being an Engineer at Department of Transport Management, NIRTTP, Sub-Project Office. As a part of this organization for the past four years, I have gained the opportunity to be involved in various projects and trainings regarding road safety.

My job not only fulfills my dream to contribute in the road safety but also helps me to be an independent woman; not only economically but also emotionally. I, now believe, that anyone can achieve their dreams if they believe in themselves and work accordingly irrespective of their gender. 

Sitan Shrestha
Engineer, Department of Transport Management, NIRTTP, Sub-Project Office

  anyone can achieve their dreams if they believe in themselves 

” I have been working in the field of transportation for more than ten years and have been actively participating in various training, workshop, seminar and awareness programs. Currently I am a senior officer at Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

Working in the field of transportation Engineering field for so may years, Nepal Engineers’ Association (NEA), Society of Transportation Engineers Nepal (SoTEN) and preparation of Municipal Transport Master Plan of different municipalities, I feel that there are fewer ladies in engineering sector and even less in transportation sector. I can say that this sector has many challenges for the women, but there are opportunities as well. Not only female, I would like to see this beautiful field of engineering to be so-ordinated with all genders coherently and lets make the transportation more safe and sustainable for the people and the country. “

Anjana Bhatta
Senior Officer, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) 

  this sector has many challenges for women, but there are opportunities as well 

“Mobility gives us freedom and its experience came along with my first cycle that I owned as a child. Later, I started riding a scooter. My parents wanted me to be safe and comfortable and avoid the hassles of commuting in public vehicles. We had even explored options for a cycle or an electric scooter, but was quited for safety issues. During the blockage and fuel shortage in 2015 need for a sustainable mode of transportation was re-realized. I bought a bicycle to commute but when fuel availability was relieved, daily cycling was halted.

Cycling on a busy road of Kathmandu is not easy and I appreciate those who commute daily on their bicycle. Lately, I am trying to cycle whenever feasible exploring the safest route. Hopefully, proper infrastructures and safety assurance will encourage more people to use bicycles and other sustainable modes of transportation. “

Rija Joshi
Civil Engineer/ Urban Planner 

  proper infrastructures and safety assurance will encourage more people to use bicycle and other sustainable modes of transportation 

” After completing my master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawaii, USA in 2017, I came back to Nepal and started to work as an urban planner in Building Design Authority (BDA), one of the largest engineering consultant firms in Nepal. I was involved in Regional Urban Development Project (RUDP) in Sudurpaschim Province in far western Nepal. The project aimed to improve flood management, solid waste management, and urban mobility through urban planning that reflect greater disaster risk resiliency, improved land management and regional development. Currently I am working as a consultant in the Investment Board of Nepal and I am involved in project development along with facilitating investments in various urban/transportation planning projects. As a planner, I always focus on creating sustainable environments which provide greener, cleaner and safer places to live, work and invest for all.

Although there are few women working in the urban/transportation planning sector in our country, we can still make significant contributions to create better places through proper planning.  “

Ranjeeta Acharya
Urban Planning Expert, Office of Investment Board of Nepal

  we can make significant contributions to create better place through proper planning 

” I have been working as an engineer for more than eight years at Department of Roads (DoR) which is the pioneer organization in transport sector of Nepal. I am proud to be in transport sector as it plays a vital role for overall growth of nation. During this period I got opportunity to work in different parts of country which gave me the general overview of woman participations and presence in transport sector. In general it is thought that the gender related stereotypes and predudices still occur in transport sector. However in my experience, we can excel in every field with our dedication and hard work irrespective of our gender. I feel happy that the number of competent woman engineers is increasing at transport sector these days. “

Sabina Ranabhat
Engineer,  Department of Roads

  we can excel in every field with our dedication and hard work 

” I am currently working at Toronto Transit Commission, Canada. I was previously engaged with prestigious organizations like Department of Roads, World Bank Nepal, Lalitpur Engineering College, Shah Consult and Next Consult Pvt. ltd. I am also volunteering at SoTEN, NCS, RSSN and NEA’s Road Safety Committee. For me, an engineering degree doesn’t just teach us how to be a great engineer, but rather a great manager and entrepreneur. I can only imagine how dynamic our profession demands us to be where the rest of the world in this field has started 50 years earlier than us. The challenges in my job is what’s been fueling me up with the value and impact it brings to society. The most exciting thing is getting numerous opportunities to travel the world. There is no such layer where transportation engineering cannot make the presence. Through this profession, I have grown into a more skilled, more rational and more confident woman. “

Shubhechchha Bhatta
Contract Administrator, Toronto Transit Commission, Canada

  The challenges in my job is what’s been fueling me up with the value and impact it brings to society. 

” Having completed Master’s degree in urban planning in 2017, I have been involved in various urban planning addressing sustainable transport and mobility since then. At UN- Habitat, I was involved in preparation of manual for localization of SDG-11 and New Urban. As a Mayors’ Research Fellow for the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, I am conducting a research on the impact of pedestrianisation on local economy and liveability. Currently I am engaged at Nepal Injury Research Center in a Road Safety Research Priorities project whose outcome would help in evidence based policy making for road safety. 

To all professional women my message is, what you do makes a difference, all you have to decide is what kind of difference you want to make. In this world of continuous challenges for a woman, one thing that keeps me going is to never let the fear of striking out keep me from playing the game. “

Kriti Pradhan
Researcher, Nepal Injury Research Center 

  what you do makes a difference 

” My career in the transportation field is full of learning and developing opportunities. I am
government engineer for more than 7 years and currently, I work in Infrastructure Development
Office, Dhulikhel, Kavrepalanchok district where my major works comprises of contract
management, design, planning, collaboration with donor agencies, consulting activities as well as
supervision and monitoring of construction projects in transportation sector (rural road,
provincial road, bridges, trail bridges etc.). I have done masters in transportation engineering
from Nepal Engineering college since transportation is my field of interest and have
determination to become good transportation engineer. 

I believe gender equity in the transport sector to choose as a career and as well as enlightment of
women voices when it comes to transport planning and the pursuit of decent work. Transport is
still regarded as ‘no place for women’ in many countries/sectors around the world. So, we must
equally strengthen their capacities so that they are fully empowered to participate, benefit from
and contribute to the sustainable and prosperous development of the region and the world.
Me being a female engineer, I would like to see women to believe in their confidence and trust
their abilities to solve every problem with full of enthusiasm. I feel very proud to see a greater
number of female participations in the transportation career both in the government as well as
private sector nowadays. So, I would like to welcome more female involvement since woman are
not the burden, they are resilient, they are solution makers and they can stand up for themselves. “

Pratibha Neupane
Engineer,  Infrastructure Development Office

  women are not the burden, they are resilient, they are solution makers and they can stand up for themselves 

I recently completed my Master’s in Transportation Engineering and Management (TEAM) from Nepal Engineering College, Lalitpur. I am working as an Engineer in National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) in Lalitpur District. With the completion of my postgraduate research in Road Safety, I intend to start my career as a Road Safety Engineer.

Being a lady, it is difficult to work in the transport sector, but I loved the subject as it is the most general one and always wanted to explore new things. My passion for it increased with specialized elective and proceeded with my research in Evaluating the Service Quality of Public Transportation. I have been associated with Safe and Sustainable Travel Nepal as a member. Additionally, I was also engaged in Traffic Management as a part of preparation of transport master plan of Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City (Then). So, as a woman, pursuing a career in Transportation will be filled with learning and developing opportunities.

Reshu Poudel
Engineer, NRA 
Member, SSTN 

women pursuing a career in transportation will be filled with learning and developing opportunities

” I have been working as a urban planner in Bharatpur Metropolitan city office since 4 year. I have been involved in different planning works like: land pooling, municipal transport masterplan, periodic plan,ringroad planning, smart city project, integrated urban development plan, drainage masterplan etc. I am proud to be in planning sector as it plays an important role in proper urban development of nation. It is challenging job for women in field as a technical person. However with hard work and dedication it is possible to achieve any goals.
Around the world both gender are striving to achieve a better mobility future for all, yet the majority of decision makers and planners in transport sectors are male and women’s voices are often poorly addressed. We need to empower female change makers in transport sectors and change mobility systems to cater womens needs. We need more women in technical field so they can bring the important perspective of how to create really welcoming communities for everyone. Because when women can feel safe and cycle, every body can. Happy international women’s Day. “

Asmita Khanal
Urban Planner, Bharatpur Metropolitan City Office

  We need to empower female change makers in transport sectors and change mobility systems 

” Role of women in Road Safety

Being an Engineer in Department of Roads, my responsibility lies in transportation development and improvement. To enrich my knowledge, I have completed master’s degree in Transportation Engineering. Currently I am working at Road Safety and Traffic Unit, DoR with role to improve the road safety and traffic management scenario within the country.

The road traffic fatalities become a great burden to low- and middle-income countries, same as in Nepal. To cope with such a problem, collaboration between stakeholders including government agencies, research institution and health organization; strong governmental policies, enforcement, education, smart road design and powerful public awareness campaigns must be carried out.

While talking about awareness women can play the vital role. If one woman is aware about Road safety, she may aware the whole family including children. Women are engaged in lower risk while driving than men. Since prevention is better than cure, the speed should be reduced as it lowers the risk of crash. “

Bandana Acharya
Engineer, Department of Roads

  if one woman is aware, she may aware the whole family 

” Being a woman in a male dominated field has made me more confident and has opened more doors form me. I embarked on the field of Geographical Information System (GIS) as an elective subject even though it was not the most common path to take for many. I worked as a civil engineer for two years in Urban Planning and Design Consultant Nepal where I was involved in various projects like preparation of IUDP, MTMP and different planning related projects. I had the opportunity to work alongside remarkable professionals both in office and in field.

I am currently pursuing my masters’ degree in Geographic Information Science at Technical University of Berlin. I hope to gain more insight on safer and sustainable transportation management and be able to implement better techniques back home as well.

The usage of new and developing technology in any field is key to its evolution. The use of GIS in transportation engineering is highly emerging and with the capable manpoer that we have today in the transportation sector, I believe we can achieve great heights in the future. I strongly believe in the power of determination as it is not who you are that holds you behind, it’s who you think you are not! 

Kriti Shrestha
Masters Scholar (GIS), TU Berlin 

 .. it is not who you are that holds you behind, it’s who you think you are not! 

” Road and transportation infrastructure safety…. for today and tomorrow….

Being born in a male-dominated society, regardless of gender I always wanted to become
someone who is admired by the society and also bring changes. As a Geotechnical Engineer, I am working on the geotechnical investigation in the Kathmandu-Terai/ Madesh Fast Track Road project of Nepal Army. My profession not only made me independent but also capable of contributing to society. Geotechnical engineering for road transport infrastructure and safety have always been directly correlated. Road infrastructure development and its safety start from proper design, soil exploration, construction and safety measures that can address present and forthcoming challenges.

Road and transportation infrastructure safety in Nepal is a major challenge and in some cases, downright dangerous. Women experience regular abuse, both physical and verbal, to and from their workplaces. The main cause is a violation of traffic rules as no safety protocols are being followed. This mindset of male riders towards female riders has to be changed with law enforcement, public awareness, safety and emergency services. “

Bandana Tiwari
Geotechnical Engineer,  Geotech Solutions International

 mindset of male riders towards female riders has to be changed  

From being someone else’s driver to owning my own Safa Tempo has its own struggle and bittersweet memories.

Most of my income is spent currently to pay off debt but I am very much determined to start something of my own and becoming independent. This keeps me going. Despite having a husband living abroad, my entire family is dependent on my Safa Tempo income source.

We women can do anything if we have strong will.

Devi Shrestha
Safa Tempo Owner & Driver

  We women can do anything if we have strong will 

” By profession I am civil engineer, with dedication to work in transport sector. I have been
associated with Safe and Sustainable Travel Nepal(SSTN) as a General Member. Previously I
had work with SSTN in various school level road safety awareness campaign, public transport and pedestrianization study for Lalitpur Metropolitan City. I have also worked as intern in LRBP which is a joint program of Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation and government of Nepal for implementation of motorable road bridge in LRN throughout the country. 

Like every other sector there are both challenges as well as opportunity in this sector too. I have seen the female engineers, traffic police, drivers, conductors, social activists, working tirelessly for the improvement of transportation sector. I encourage women to grab the opportunity in transportation sector because I believe with our dedication, creativity, and hard work, we can conquer the world. “

Reema Basnet
Member, SSTN 

  with our dedication, creativity and hard work, we can conquer the world 

Sustainable transportation design keeps a variety of end-users in mind — the pregnant women, the non-binary genders, the deaf, the disabled. I look forward to seeing that transportation in Nepal becomes increasingly safer for, accessible to and inclusive of these communities.

Sajal Pradhan
Entrepreneur & Sustainability Professional

  sustainable transportation design keeps a variety of end-users in mind 

“I have been working in the field of transportation for the past nine years. As a fresh Engineer, I was very enthusiastic to explore my country, Nepal. Since then, I have travelled few places including places where there were no roads for transportation. Access is indeed the core/backbone to other forms of development. 

Working together in group, learning, sharing is the part I love and believe in. Any sector especially the infrastructure sector is a big challenge for any women to work in. The outlook of people associated with this sector that a female engineer can work in the field have a deep knowledge of this sector is always questioning, forcing her to prove herself at each step. Things are tiring but we believe in ourselves, have patience, endurance, faith, and work hard proving ourselves with a smile. More women can be seen these days managing both the paper work as well as field work. We together have to change the stigma that we can work and excel in this field paving way for the future.”

Manju Gurung
Engineer, Department of Local Infrastructure

  We together have to change the stigma that we can work and excel in this field 

“I still remember my dad asking me during my childhood , what do you want if you secured first position in your final exam?  And I said a bicycle.  But being a girl I was expected to opt for dolls rather than Cycling, and sports by my relatives. However I used to go to one of my school friend who owned a bicycle as soon as I was done with my assignments and learned it on my own by balancing one of the  handle onto the balcony.  Later I used to rent bicycle out of the money saved from my tiffins. 

 I am professionally working as an architect . Besides I am part time lecturer at engineering colleges ,free lancer artist and a member of Nepal Cycle Society. I did my masters in Energy for Sustainable Social Development. Being financially independent and after owning a bicycle of my own, I used to participate to different cycle rides and rallies and my parents not only used to support me but  used to join rides along with me. One of the memorable and my first longest three days cycle ride to Janakapur, made me realize and feel that incredible sense of freedom when on wheels.

As a female cyclist I often used to get discouraged by the unpleasant comments  and bullies on road. I still Ride Bicycle to my office work but now I standup against the harassment. Women riding a bicycle is a sign of advancement in a society but lack of proper, safe infrastructure and conservative societal perceptions are the reasons for lower number of female cyclist in our country. Every woman has the right to live the life they want and societal norms and perceptions should not be a barrier to ones passion.”

Lasata Shakya

  Every woman has the right to live the life they want and societal norms and perceptions should not be a barrier 

“As a public transportation user, I find it very difficult to go on my usual route as in peak hour the vehicles are over crowded, staying inside in suffocation and constant fear of losing belongings is a common problem. I find women seat allocation a commendable approach as probability of getting a seat increases for ladies for ladies dealing with menstrual problems, pregnancy and carrying small babies. Many roads lack footpath so its difficult especially when I take my toddler for a walk. As a scooty driver, I feel lack of proper regulation and discipline in public vehicles as they generally travel in high speed along with hapazard overtaking and frequent sudden stops.”

Pratichhya Pradhan
Lecturer, Kantipur Engineering College