On Wings of Verse: Advocating for Investment in Women through Poetry

March 26, 2024
a girl reciting her poem at the stage in the national poetry competition

“Boarding my first flight to Kathmandu filled me with a mix of nervousness and excitement. I had never imagined that my poetry would lead to such an opportunity. I celebrated my birthday on the same day, so this trip was the best gift I have ever received," said Kabita Koirala, the winner of the Koshi Province leg of the National Poetry Competition. 

Kabita’s sentiments echo those of other provincial winners, each expressing excitement and gratitude for the chance to visit the capital city and recite their poems.

In the fifth edition of the National Poetry Competition—held on 7 March 2024 in Patan, and organized by UNDP in Nepal, together with Rastriya Banijya Bank, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—Kajal Yadav from Shree Baidyanath Devnarayan Janta Model Secondary School, Madhesh Province, secured first place. Sadikchya Poudel from Tarun Madhyamik Vidyalaya, Bagmati Province, came in second, and Usha Nepal from Vijaya Secondary School, Karnali Province, stood third.

The event featured 160 participants, including seven provincial winners, who recited poems on themes encompassing investment in women, gender equality, gender-based violence, and gender discrimination.  The judging panel consisted of Deputy Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Manjali Shakya Bajracharya, actor Keki Adhikari, and poet/lyricist Upendra Subba. They evaluated the poems based on criteria such as creativity, originality, technical skills, presentation, and the depth and relevance of the theme: investing in women to accelerate progress.

Kajal Yadav, the national competition winner, said that the trip had given her exposure. “I learned many things by meeting new people and hearing about their experiences.” 

girl reciting a poem

Similarly, Sadikchya Poudel, who stood second, shared feeling more empowered and confident after participating in the competition. She derived inspiration from the poems and performances of the other participants. "Special gratitude to UNDP and Rastriya Banijya Bank for providing laptop as the prize. This has helped me in my studies. I have been using it for accessing information. It is also helping me to create document, presentations which enhance my learning. Furthermore, it has ease in my school assignments and do research", she added.

girl using her laptop


Bipana Biswakarma winner of Lumbini Province added "The atmosphere of the competition ignited my enthusiasm and energy. Additionally, receiving a tablet has significantly supported me in my educational journey". 

a girl looking into her tablet while studying


Meanwhile, Usha Nepal, the third-place winner, expressed gratitude for receiving a laptop as a gift from the organizers. “I will learn to use it soon for my education and enhance my literary skills,” she added.

girl posing with her trophy
deputy mayor of lalitpur giving a speech


Speaking at the event, Deputy Mayor Shakya said, “Economic empowerment is crucial to end violence against women. Before changing the thoughts and perceptions of others, it is important for women to change their own views of themselves.”

CEO of RBB providing a token of appreciation to actress Keki Adhikari


Additionally, Kiran Kumar Shrestha, CEO of Rastriya Banijya Bank, reiterated the need for investing in women and girls, and emphasized the necessity for tailored programs and capacity enhancement to ensure equal opportunities. 

a lady giving a speech



UNDP Nepal’s Resident Representative, Ayshanie Medagangoda Labe, expressed her pleasure in providing the participants with the opportunity to visit Kathmandu, a first for most. She appreciated hearing the aspirations of the girls, who expressed their desires for education, writing, dignity, respect, and freedom. “Poetry is an expression of the art, culture, and life of a society, and its understanding can be a crucial part of the development process,” she said.

lady giving a speech


Similarly, UNHCR’s Protection Officer, Menique Amarsinghe, stated that poetry enables the voiceless to be heard, encourages understanding of different perspectives, instills compassion, and challenges the status quo. “Inclusion is more than just allowing people to participate; it is about creating a platform where all voices are valued,” she added. 

group picture of 7 provincial winners posing with the judges and chief guests after receiving their prizes

Here are the full recitals of the participants at the National Poetry Competition 2024: