Name: Hoffe, Lisa
Title of Film Project: “Trailblazing: The Women of Nepal’s Trekking Industry”
Value of Award: $10 000 Canadian
Project Year: 2003/2004
CIDA Priorities: Women in Development, Gender Equality
In 2003 Lisa Hoffe was the only candidate at Memorial chosen among 46 graduate students across the country to receive an Innovative Research Award from the Canadian International Development Agency, a program for students conducting fieldwork in a developing context. Lisa lived in Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal for five months to produce a media project profiling as aspect of gender affecting women’s participation in the economy. The fieldwork satisfied the non-thesis (project) option of the Masters of Women’s Studies degree program. She graduated with an M.W.S. in 2005.
The 24-minute production Trailblazing: The Women of Nepal’s Trekking Industry captures the pioneering spirit of young Nepali women working as mountain guides for tourists who come to ‘trek’ in the Himalayas. Despite the strong prevailing conditioning in a very patriarchal mountain culture, these brave women have bucked the social order to claim a stake for themselves in a lucrative, yet male dominated adventure tourism industry.
The primary focus of the film is the three Chhetri Sisters, Lucky, Dicky(Dickumari) and Nicky, their drive and determination to establish the first and only female-owned and run trekking agency catering to women tourists. Success has not brought the sister’s complacency, but an urge to expand capacity in the industry for women by providing regular training programs for those interested in jobs as mountain guides. The film tracks the month-long training program and the challenges for trainees seeking a rare opportunity for employment and economic independence for women in Nepal.
Sancharika Samuha (SAS)
Lisa Hoffe collaborated with a feminist non-governmental organization, Sancharika Samuha, or Women Communicator’s Forum for the project. It is a group of volunteer female media professionals dedicated to the promotion of gender equality through advocacy campaigns, women-centered productions as well as gender awareness training for media personnel in Nepal. For more information, visit www.sancharika.org.