Twenty-three-year-old Batuli Giri became a professional trekking guide because the money was good and she liked travelling to new places with tourists. In one trekking season she earns up to Rs 25,000. Giri had to quit school when she was in grade nine due to the conflict. She started out as a porter and later trained to be a guide with Pokhara's Three Star Adventure, which has given free training to over 700 women guides until now.
The majority of those who were trained are still in the profession and about 100 guides in 40 districts are now established trekking guides.Man Kunwar from Palpa took Three Star Adventure's training in 2001 and is still working there with her husband. Renu Karki took the training five years ago because she had some spare time and she thought it would be fun. Little did she know she was going to end up being a professional trekking guide.
Although there are more female guides now than before there are many challenges. They say that it is often hard to find places to stay along the trekking route during the busy season. Sometimes they have to share rooms with male guides. Women trekking guides are not as respected as the men and they are often seen in a negative way by other guides and hotel owners. But they say the challenges do not discourage them. Uma Bastola joined the profession to challenge the patriarchal society and to prove that women can also do well in professions that men dominate.
Chair of Three Star Adventure Lucky Karki says women, especially Janajatis, want to train. She says that while before most trainees were social pariahs, now even married women with kids, or fresh high-school graduates are getting attracted to the profession.
Free training for women guides started nine years ago. Every year about 80 women are trained. The total cost of the free training is about Rs 200,000 which Three Star Adventure gets through fundraising events with foreigners.