Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar
ADWAN founding President & Chief Patron
Photo by Pratha Magar (USNepalOnline.com)
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar
Founding President & Chief Patron
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar is founder and Chief Patron of ADWAN.ORG, a rights-based Nepali organization which has supported more than 14,900 children and more than 34,600 Dalit and marginalized women and their family members in Nepal since 1998. Dr. Pariyar serves as the Advisory Member of Diversity and Inclusion Board of Mayor of Jersey City, Steven M. Fulop who appointed her to make sure Jersey City’s minority community is not left behind while city strides for development in all sectors. She is actively involved with the United Nations NGO Committee on the Status of Women (CSW), New York as Co-Chair of Consultation Day 2018.
Dr. Pariyar is a prolific social entrepreneur and one of the most admired personalities among Nepali diaspora. Recently, International Coordinator Council of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) has appointed her Honorary Council Member. She is also founding President of Jersey City-based Women For Cause (WFC), Co-Founder of Jersey City Nepali Community (JCNC) and Executive Board Member of South Asian American Outreach Community (SACO), New Jersey.
Currently, Dr. Pariyar works at Hudson Speaks of CarePoint Health Group as an Outreach Coordinator and Counselor on domestic & sexual violence, while dedicating the rest of her time in uplifting Nepal’s marginalized people through her leadership, advocacy and fundraising. She has fundraised more than one and half million U.S. dollars for Nepal’s so-called untouchable Dalit and marginalized women and children.
She is also co-founder of NRN Women Fund, a collective investment company of Non-Resident Nepali women from around the world. She previously served as Chair of Women Empowerment Task Force of NRNA ICC between 2013-2015.
As the well-known South Asian Community Leader and human right activist, she has always been at the forefront advocating and assisting for women and immigrants facing all sorts of discrimination, abuses and violence. She leads Nepali-speaking immigrant community to speak up about the injustices they face every day, and help them learn and assert their rights in Jersey City and elsewhere in the United States.
She also works closely with City of Jersey City where she resides with her journalist, IT professional husband. Under the leadership of Dr. Pariyar, Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop hosted first Nepali Flag-Raising Ceremony at City Hall on June 30, 2017 where about 100 community members attended the ceremony. Also, under her leadership, TPS Resolution for Nepali-American community was passed by Municipal Council of City of Jersey City on May 27, 2015. Jersey City became the first and only U.S. city to pass the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Resolution for Nepali-American community whose, back home, many homes were destroyed and families suffered due to devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. More than 8,000 lives were lost and millions homes destroyed. The Council President, Rolando R. Lavarro who is Phillipino-American, took the initiative to table the resolution. The resolution was passed unanimously by the council members. Subsequently, Department of Homeland Security granted TPS Status to Nepali- American community on June 24, 2015. City of Jersey City Municipal Council has passed another TPS Resolution on Valentine’s Day- February 14th, 2018 to support Extension of Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for Nepalis in the USA and urged Department of Homeland Security to maintain the TPS. Currently, there are 14,791 Nepali TPS work permit holders in USA. It was renewed on October 26, 2016 which will expire on June 24, 2018.
Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Political Systems from Nepal and the USA and a Master’s degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University, she also received honorary Doctor of Letters (D. Litt.) from Pine Manor College for her outstanding social contribution in 2013. Mayor of City of Louisville, Kentucky, USA honored her with September 27, 2015 dedicating as 'Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar Day' for her significant social contribution to the marginalized community.
Dr. Pariyar was born in 1973 to a poor Dalit family of ten children in a remote village in Gorkha District in Western Nepal. She grew up without access to electricity, sanitation, health care and vehicular roads. Her family lived as subsistence farmers, where the children’s labor was essential for the family’s survival. Going to school met with many obstacles; as a Dalit girl, Ms. Pariyar was considered “untouchable” and teased and excluded by other children. She was even disparaged and humiliated for her status by teachers. Yet, even though she had to walk four hours daily, she insisted on attending high school. Despite such hardships, she became the first girl from her community to graduate and obtain the National School Leaving Certificate (SLC), the gate to higher education. One of her teachers, John Brookman, a Peace Corps volunteer, helped her to a small scholarship, which enabled her to study social work in Kathmandu.
Through her dedication and passion for the marginalized and Dalit community, the so called low-caste or untouchable people, Dr. Pariyar has overcome tremendous obstacles of gender, caste discrimination and poverty in Nepal as well as challenges that emerged because of socio-economic inequality and exclusion.
Having realized that low caste women have no advocates and are not served well by established aid organizations, Dr. Pariyar co-founded ADWAN.ORG in Nepal with an exclusive objective of serving Dalit women and children of Nepal. She was only 20 at the time she founded ADWAN, which today has made significant impact in the fields of women’s rights and Dalit’s human rights. The organizations have also pioneered social change through grassroots development.
As an intern, Ms. Pariyar worked with a self-help program for poor women in Terain, Nepal and witnessed firsthand the inability of Dalit women to access resources offered to other women. The group’s “higher caste” participants would not tolerate Dalits in their midst. In addition, the poorest Dalit women lacked collateral to take out loans.
Ms. Pariyar instinctively understood that it would require awareness and special consideration to address the severe challenges faced by Dalit women. She consequently conceived her own approach to reach the most marginalized. The women’s groups she organized would deliberately include women from different castes, and she actively encouraged them to cooperate.
Additionally, loans were made collateral-free, so the poorest of the poor could be included. In 1996, she started five women’s groups in her own village with $150 from a group of Americans expats. These groups are still thriving today—with Ms. Pariyar’s mother still a member.
Today, Dr. Pariyar has made significant impact in the fields of human rights of women and minorities as well as in bringing social change through right-based development approaches. And her contributions have not gone unnoticed, Dr. Pariyar has received a number of accolades including Dr. Ambedkar Global Change Maker Award 92018) by Foundation for Human Horizon USA; International Women's Day Award (2018) by The Society of Foreign Consuls in New York; Margaret McNamara Memorial Award by World Bank Family Network, The Bridge Builder Award from the Harvard University, Perdita Hudson Human Rights Award by United Nations Association of USA, Dr. Ambedkar Award by Association of International Dalit Organization, Pauline Tompkins Award, Women's Leadership Award and President Cup Award from Pine Manor College, and Social Change Fellow from Clark University. She was also awarded Nepal Samman (Jewel of Nation) Award by Sagarmatha Pratisthan, Kathmandu, Nepal in 2011, Solute to the Heroes Award (2010) by Association of Nepali in America (ANA), Social Justice Award from Long Island Nepalese Association, Community Services Award from South Asian American Community Outreach( SAACO) in 2017 and numerous national and international awards for her social contributions.
Updated: April 16, 2018