How This Female Athlete is Blazing a Trail for Women in Nepal

Mira Rai faced many challenges as a young Napalese woman from a poor village, born to two landless labor parents in one of the nation's poorest countries.

In 1995, the start of the Maoist revolt against government security forces and corrupt monarchy in Nepal began.

That’s when Maoist recruiters who came to her village approached Rai, who was just a young teenager at the time, and she became a part-time child soldier.

"I was inspired by their message of making a better society here, especially for women, and by the adventure too," Rai told The Guardian.

"Other girls were confined to their homes and I thought if I go then the others will follow."

According to The Guardian, Rai was prepared to fight and to die in the struggle.

But when she was rejected from a new national army when she labeled a child combatant by the United States, which oversaw the transition of peace for Nepal, Rai began pursuing something she was more passionate about than fighting – running.

Today Rai is fighting a new battle – inspiring women of Nepal to fight back against the deep conservatism in the country by running in races all over the world.

Last year she entered the 31-mile run through the nation's Himalayan landscape, in which she was the only woman to participate.

She has used the earnings from races she has participated in to send her younger siblings to school and to help her family.

"There has been some progress, but not enough," Rai told The Guardian.

"I want women and girls in remote villages like mine to have opportunities. We need to change attitudes. It will not be easy."

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Photo Credit: Mira Rai Facebook