Determination plus courage and education pushed Bishnu Pariyar beyond her own limits as a lower caste member of a village in Nepal. Her story is one that will be retold in books and films, but, for Frontrunners Innovate, Bishnu shares her story, her work, and how this type of diversity movement is leveling the “playing field” for women in her home country and providing a model for other countries. She talks with Frontrunners Innovate Producer and Host, Mary Kurek, and Co-Host, Amb. Ghazala Khan.
Meet Bishnu Pariyar. (36-min video)
Short Documentary on Bishnu Pariyar’s Life and Story of Impact:
Bishnu Pariyar’s Bio:
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar is an award-winning scholar, prolific social entrepreneur, and one of the most admired Nepali-American personalities. Her life-long passion to work for the upliftment of so-called Dalit or untouchable and marginalized people in Nepal has brought a profound change in the community. Dr. Pariyar believes that nothing is impossible if you’re determined to overcome or achieve.
In 2015, the City of Louisville, Kentucky, USA honored September 27 as “Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar Day” by Mayor Greg E. Fischer for her outstanding social contribution as in 2013, Dr. Pariyar was conferred with honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from her alma mater, Pine Manor College, MA, USA for her pioneer social contribution. She holds 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, MA, USA.
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar’s life-struggle story has been featured in a higher education textbook, ‘The Writer’s Mindset’ by Dr. Lisa Wright Hoeffner, which was published by one of the world’s top publications, McGraw Hill in 2021. Dr. Pariyar’s story is featured between 591-594 pages.
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar was born into a poor Dalit family of eleven children in a remote village in the 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. But she’s endured and overcome those challenges, earned her education, and founded her social organization called ADWAN which became a catalyst for change in society.
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar is the founding President of ADWAN.ORG, a rights-based Nepali organization that has supported more than 23,000 children and more than 50,000 Dalit and marginalized women and their family members in Nepal since 1998.
Dr. Pariyar’s brain-child social integration organization, ADWAN aims to foster a measure of economic independence, boost self-esteem and dignity, instill solidarity among diverse communities, and build a sense of national pride. 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.
Dr. Pariyar has served twice as an Advisory Member of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s Diversity & Inclusion Board between 2015-2017 & 2017-2019. She currently serves as Board Member of the Employment & Training Board of the City of Jersey City. Mayor Fulop appointed her to make sure Jersey City’s minority community is not left behind while the city strives for development in all sectors.
In the years 2020 and 2021, as Coronavirus devastated the community in the United States and around the world, Dr. Pariyar has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic relief assistance program to needy Nepali, the South Asian American community, and international students. She has tirelessly led efforts to directly help hundreds of families and F1 students from Nepal and South Asia to receive day-to-day essentials such as masks, medicines, groceries, and has provided counseling to victims of domestic and sexual violence. Without her steadfast leadership, expertise, prompt, and just collaboration, the community would be left behind and greatly impacted. Dr. Pariyar’s role as Hudson Speaks’ South Asian Initiative Coordinator, NRNA ICC Executive Member, and Nepali American community’s leading figure, she has been able to bring together local government and social organizations to create coronavirus awareness and provide access to resources for the neediest and most vulnerable people in the United States and Nepal. Dr. Pariyar’s organization, ADWAN, had also spearheaded the COVID-19 pandemic relief assistance efforts in rural Nepal.
Dr. Pariyar had also played a pivotal role to have the historic Nepal Flag Raising Ceremony (2017) and (2021) in Jersey City Hall, New Jersey, USA, which is first not only in the United States but the entire world; as well as achieving TPS (Temporary Protection Status) City of Jersey City Council Resolution for Nepalis living in the United States in 2015 and 2018. Dr. Pariyar has also been successfully bringing two countries closer as Emissary of Sister City between the City of Jersey City and Nepal’s Indrawati Rural Municipality since 2019.
Dr. Pariyar has more than one and a half decades of experience as a case manager, domestic violence and family advocate working with Hudson Speaks Against Sexual Violence, Jersey City, NJ; ASIAN TASK FORCE AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, Boston, MA, and NEPONSET Health Center, Boston, MA, and HarborCov, Communities Overcoming Violence, MA, USA. Through her work, community approach, and tireless dedication, she has been able to help hundreds of domestic and sexual violence victims from the South Asian American community. Dr. Pariyar has given cultural sensitivity training to local officials, police, and law enforcement officers in Boston, MA and Jersey City, New Jersey, USA.
Dr. Pariyar currently serves as Election Committee Member and Executive ICC Member of Non-Resident Nepalis Association (NRNA) International Coordination Council 2019-2021. Dr. Pariyar has also served as Executive ICC Member of NRNA ICC (2019-2021) and was the first Chair of Women Empowerment Task Force of NRNA ICC (2014-2015). She is also the founder of NRN Women Fund, a collective investment company of Non-Resident Nepali women from around the world, and Vice-Chair of All Ladies League New Jersey Chapter for Business Networking, USA. 2019-present; Co-Chair, NRNA ICC Children Welfare Task Force, Non-Resident Nepalis Association (NRNA) Internal Coordination Council; Board Member, Inspiring South Asian American Women, USA; Main Representative to UN for Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC) Nepal. She is actively involved with the United Nations NGO Committee on the Status of Women (CSW), New York, and served as Co-Chair of Consultation Day 2018.
Dr. Pariyar has participated in over 50 national and international conferences as a keynote speaker, guest speaker, and panelist. Dr. Pariyar had been invited to lecture at Harvard University, Clark University, Pine Manor College, Brandeis University, Boston University, and other prestigious institutions. She has been invited as a panelist and speaker at national and international conferences including at UNIFEM, AMNESTY International, and The World Bank Family Network Forum.
Dr. Pariyar’s over two decades’ tireless grassroots social works have been applauded worldwide. She has been awarded more than 40 national and international recognition, award, citation, proclamation for her outstanding work for Nepali people and diaspora community including The Bridge Builder Award from Harvard University, Perdita Hudson Human Rights Award by the United Nations Association of USA, Dr. Ambedkar Award by Association of International Dalit Organizations, Margaret McNamara Memorial Award by World Bank Family Network, Pauline Tompkins Award, Women’s Leadership Award, and President’s Cup Award from Pine Manor College, and Social Change Fellow from Clark University.
Dr. Pariyar was also awarded 2021 NJ-11 Heroes Award by U.S. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (link), COVID-19 Hero Award 2020 by New York City, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; COVID-19 Champion Award 2020by United Sherpa Association, USA and Humanitarian of the World; Women of Action award 2019 by City of Jersey City; International Women’s Day Award 2018 by The Society of Foreign Consuls in New York, USA; Community Service Award 2018 by South Asian American Outreach Community (SACO), New Jersey, USA; Nepal Samman (Jewel of Nation) award 2011 by Sagarmatha Foundation, Kathmandu, Nepal and Salute to the Heroes Award 2010 by Association of Nepali in America (ANA) and several commendation letters from various Nepali and international organizations from around the world.