Sanju Kumari Das is a petite, soft-spoken woman, but don’t let that fool you. In a region where women’s voices are rarely heard, this formidable 27-year-old commands the attention of political giants.
Sanju produces and hosts one of our thirty-minute radio talk shows in Nepal, Wider Earth. While many shows hook listeners by inciting fights between guests, we trained Sanju to do just the opposite. She empowers the parties of a conflict to break through stalled, destructive fighting to find a solution, and even reconcile. 84% of Wider Earth episodes lead to an agreed solution between the guests.
“It’s challenging to get people of opposing sides to come to an agreement, but it’s truly rewarding when it happens,” explains Sanju. “Agreement is difficult to achieve and should be celebrated.”
While she doesn’t exaggerate the program’s impact—“one episode isn’t going to change everything,” she says—she can recite an impressive list of resolutions, such as helping resolve a strike.
After the 10-year civil war ended in 2006, poverty and political instability have continued to plague Nepal. With over one hundred ethnic groups, any attempts to form a new government are hotly debated. To halt unwanted actions, political parties may call a general strike, or bandh, a nationwide shutdown. Shops do not open, and transportation stops.
The strikes often trigger violence, forced closures, arson attacks, and other clashes.
During one entrenched strike, Sanju invited district party representatives onto her show to talk it out. Her constructive mediation set a precedent for subsequent talks, eventually culminating in a multi-party agreement to end the strike. Later that year, the political parties of Nepal agreed to form an interim government and successfully held elections for their 2nd Constituent Assembly and Prime Minister. While the conflict is far from resolved – Nepal still does not have a permanent constitution – Sanju is proud to have a small part in this positive momentum. Half of listeners say that Wider Earth gives them greater hope for the national peace process.
Millions of Nepalis – 54% of people in a nationwide survey – listen to Wider Earth, either to Sanju or one of two other broadcast languages. Most continue the discussion with their friends.
Nepal is treading a tenuous path to peace. Together with Search, Sanju has helped build non-violent solutions into the very heart of the country’s new life, from government to home.
Radio is a powerful peacebuilding tool – especially in the hands of remarkable partners like Sanju. Celebrate World Radio Day (today!) with us:
- Listen to our Join the Search podcasts, on topics ranging from Syria to Ebola, race relations to refugees.
- Read about the children who called for peace every week on air – and got it.
- Support media professionals like Sanju in being part of the solution for peace. $20 a month provides leadership coaching and peacebuilding skills development for one woman.