I am Nepal’s first female food technologist, Shakuntala Rai, Nepal’s. I am currently 72 years old and still freelancing. Backed by my father’s encouragement to pursue studies, I prepared myself to take up a subject, very new at that age, food technology. I completed I. Tech. after 10th and moved to Kathmandu. I landed a job which I continued for 8 months before moving to India in furtherance of the Bachelors course in food technology for which I had luckily received a scholarship.
I belong to the first batch of food technology students in Dharan as well as in Agriculture Marathwada University. Being the only girl in the course amidst 31 boys there, I faced a few attempts of overpowering from the athlete guys. But they could never shut me down. The perk of being a newbie to the whole culture was that I could speak my mind and maintain my stand.
After graduating, I started my first job in Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology Department. In 1989, I went to Kanye, Botswana, Africa to work at the Food Research Centre at the UN. I got a chance to go to Mponela, Malawi, Africa and work at MEDI as an agro-based product expert in 1991. For many years, I also worked in Es Timor and Afghanistan. I also worked for a grassroot level NGO UCEP(Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programs). At this age, I freelance as a resource person for entrepreneurship and a trainer of food preservation and cleaner production.
As a woman, too fresh in this field and in all of the woman-working-out scenarios, I was met by rejections at workplaces and refusal to cooperate at field works but I let my qualifications speak for me. My new experiences weren’t followed by fear, rather by excitement of moving along a path that others had barely put feet on. I survived through the enriching journey that my life has been because I was brave, bold, smart and committed to learning. Above all, because I wasn’t afraid to be the first of a kind.