Empowering Women in Nepal Through Higher Education

Founded in 2004, the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation awarded higher education scholarships to underprivileged women in Nepal, one of the world’s poorest and most undeveloped nations. By funding college and trade scholarships and providing a network of support, we helped empower BMKF scholarship recipients to become confident, self-reliant, productive citizens in their communities and country.

Over the span of 18 years, BMKF awarded scholarships to 54 young women.

BMKF scholar Sarita Sharma is one of Nepal's first woman electronics engineers.BMKF scholars are pursuing education and careers in accounting, business management, engineering, journalism, law, medicine, nursing, public health, rural development, social work, and teaching. Several BMKF alumnae are among the first Nepalese women in their fields, including electronics engineer Sarita Sharma ’14.

BMKF scholars represent Nepal’s diverse regions and cultural groups. Most are the first in their families to receive any education. More than half come from remote villages. Several have a physical disability. Others belong to marginalized castes or ethnic groups. And some have experienced harrowing civil war and human trafficking situations.

All share a passion for education. They want to achieve professional careers. And they are determined to make a difference in their society and nation, especially for other women.

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation is committed to helping them succeed.

BMKF scholar Yami Jhakri Mager visiting the Climate Change Exhibit, Kathmandu, March 2016

As of July 2022, the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation has closed and is lending its support to a sister organization, The Namaste Children’s Fund, which provides quality education to girls in rural and underserved regions of Nepal. We sincerely thank our donors, volunteers, and friends of the foundation for being part of an incredible journey over the years and for having made such an enormous difference for so many deserving women. Thank you.

The situation for girls in Nepal

In Nepal, women and girls face numerous obstacles to education, including cultural biases related to gender, caste, ethnicity, and disabilities, as well as poverty.

According to a 2012 Nepal government survey, only a third of women aged 20-24 had been to secondary school, and only half of those completed their studies.

Approximately 41% of women marry before their 18th birthday, and 10% before they turn 15. Child marriage is highest among the Dalit caste.

Human trafficking is also huge problem. An estimated 200,000 Nepali girls and women work in Indian brothels, and others are trafficked into domestic servitude or manual labor.

Equally troubling is the trend for sending women to work in foreign countries where migrant workers, especially women, have no rights.

Providing access to education, including personal and financial support, is key to helping women in Nepal gain gender equality.