28 March 2024

Krishna Karkee: “Women can drive the transformation towards a more resilient Nepalese society and nation”

Krishna Karkee portrait
UNDRR/Antoine Tardy

A strong DDR leader in her home country Nepal, Krishna is happy to look back on her career: “Initially, I started working in the governance sector in Nepal to support the country’s democratization process. Yet Nepal is a multi-hazard-prone country. Every year we face floods, landslides, fires, earthquakes and many other hazards.”   

She continues: “After 2000, I clearly observed that most of the DRR and in disaster response work was led by men. They were the ones taking all the decisions. Women were very rarely consulted. Their issues were not taken into consideration. So I decided I should work in this field, which I did from 2003 onwards.” 

That decision led her to create, in 2006, the Centre For Disaster Management Studies, before taking on other DRR responsibilities with UNDP or CARE later on. “In 2014, we experienced severe floods and in 2015, a disastrous earthquake. My life then took a drastic turn. I decided to become an even much stronger advocate for DRR.”  

Throughout her career, Krishna has tirelessly contributed to passing on ideas and action to others to build the capacity of individuals and agencies dedicated to disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action, especially women. 

Among other roles, Krishna served as a General Secretary of the Disaster Preparedness Network Nepal (DPNet- Nepal), a national network serving as Secretariat of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Platform led by the Government of Nepal. In this role, she was engaged in the development of the DRRM Act and the Policy and Strategic Plan of Action 2018-2023.  

Her involvement as the female General Secretary of DPNet-Nepal and the Co-coordinator of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal underscores her leadership competencies. 

In 2019, Krishna established the Women Humanitarian & DRR Platform (WHDRRP), which promotes women's leadership in DRR, climate action and humanitarian work. She has trained more than 200 women professionals comprising of local government representatives, civil society organizations, and individuals, empowering them to actively engage in disaster management and resilience building.  

She has also made great efforts to empower women in traditionally male-dominated roles by training 120 firefighters, including one fifth women volunteers, capacitated more than 40 Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) at national to local levels and led several disaster preparedness simulation exercises at different levels in Nepal. 

“There are very few women in leading positions in our country, let alone in DRR and other development sectors. Women's voices are less considered. That is a big challenge.” 

“Personally, I have been very vocal about gender issues despite the strong resistance I have faced. Our society is very much patriarchal. Strong female voices are usually not appreciated. But thanks to my commitment, to my dedication, I am mitigating those challenges and barriers.”

Krishna’s strong advocacy for women's inclusion at all institutional levels is setting a transformative example, encouraging gender diversity and inclusion. “I strongly believe that women are not just vulnerable but have the capacity to take on leadership roles and become powerful change-makers, driving the transformation towards a more resilient society and nation”, Krishna says.  

“We all women need to unite and work together to fight the impact of climate change.”

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Themes Gender
Country and region Nepal
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