6° Academy for Women aims to connect women throughout the world, who are motivated to become financially independent, and who in turn are inspired to connect and reach out to other women within their communities and networks to provide the same opportunities.
We aim to achieve this through targeted vocational skills training programmes based on local needs and context, enabling them and future generations to improve their lives.
Our Core Activities
Facilitate hands-on vocational skills training focused on local needs.
Offer business training programmes to set up own small business.
Job matching between potential employee and employer after completion of training programme.
We Inspire − Empower − Connect
Debbie and Gita met in Singapore in 2011 - both career women with children - facing the daily challenge of managing work and family in a culture that does little to support women to find the right balance.
Even before the idea of starting our own foundation was born, we had many conversations regarding giving back to the community and helping disadvantaged women lead better lives through financial independence.
End of 2017 we set up our foundation to provide vocational skills training to women in disadvantaged countries and agreed that Nepal would be the country to start in; it holds a very special place in our hearts being Gita’s birth country. As the Buddhist belief goes: “It is through our intentions that things manifest themselves.” So, it was not by chance that we met a special lady who from the get-go believed in our vision and readily shared her ideas and network. Being still very active in Nepal, she helped arrange our initial fact-finding trip in October 2017. Once we were on the ground, we were able validate our idea with local communities, identify opportunities and potential local partners for our foundation and were excited to set the wheels of change in motion.
Within a few weeks a business plan was written, advisors and board members identified, but most importantly the identity of our foundation was finalised. Tapping into our international network, we quickly gathered a group of talented and motivated women and men from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds to help us solidify our business plan, design our logo and website, and register our foundation so that our vision could come to life.
We came up with the name “6° Academy for Women”. The name is inspired by the theory of “6 Degrees of Separation” which states that every person in the world is connected to any other person in six or less steps, so that a chain of 'a friend of a friend' can be made to connect two people in a maximum of six steps.
Why we do what we do?
Key Drivers for Gita
In 2016, taking a break from working, I decided to sign up for Habitat for Humanity’s Nepal Global Village program and in February 2016 left for a 2-week build trip in the Kavre district of Nepal. While helping the local villagers with rebuilding their homes (4 in total), I met a young women, Sharada Danuwar, around the age of 20, working as a manual labourer carrying bricks. She spoke very good English and she told me she would like to become a mason. Coincidently (or not) the regional director of Habitat for Humanity (HfH) was visiting during the same time. I asked him why HfH did not have programmes to train local people (women) to learn skills like masonry. This was apparently not in HfH’s remit. This is when our mission about helping women to realise their potential, became a reality for me as I had now found my purpose for giving back to my birth country, Nepal, through the spirit and drive of this young women to make something of her life. Ironically, when we visited Nepal in 2017, I heard through my local contact at HfH that Sharada had indeed became a mason.
Key Drivers for Debbie
Having travelled around the globe and seeing first hand that in many developing countries women are at home taking care of their families and communities but not getting the opportunity to learn something and develop their skills was always something that struck me as not right, especially during our fact-finding trip to Nepal in 2017. I am a self-made woman, who had to take care of herself at an early age with little support or direction but at least I could go to school. I was fortunate to meet a few people in my life who saw my potential and the fire I had in me. That really helped me to become a strong, independent and very positive person who sees opportunities everywhere. Even in the Netherlands it is still a challenge for women to get the same chances as men. Ego’s and narcissistic behaviour are still impeding economic development in our global society as people more often than not do not want to collaborate with each other. I experienced that myself and this motivates me even more to go above and beyond and inspire other women to choose their own journey of independence and happiness.
Although 6° Academy’s ultimate goal is to empower women globally, Nepal was chosen as the country to begin in - the birth country of co-founder, Gita.
Nepal is still one of the poorest counties in the world with an average annual income of USD 742 in 2015. Higher than only Afghanistan in South Asia. The M7.8 earthquake that struck near Gorkha on April 2015 killed nearly 9,000 people and destroyed more than 500,000 houses. In the earthquakes’ immediate aftermath, relief and rescue work began swiftly. However, over the past three years the recovery effort has slowed down significantly.
On the back of this earthquake, economic growth declined from 5.9 percent in 2013/2014 to 2.7 percent in 2014/2015 and 0.6 percent in 2015/2016¹
In 2011, 1.9 million Nepali (mostly men) lived and worked abroad due to lack of decent employment opportunities, particularly in rural areas, and the prospects of higher earnings abroad.
Remittances to family accounts for 25% of Nepal’s GDP and almost half of all households have at least one family member working abroad. This makes it even more difficult for the population across Nepal to rebuild their villages, cities and communities.
By giving women the opportunity to learn vocational skills - even those traditionally practiced by men, such as driving, nature guide, construction, masonry, or carpentry - they will be able to help rebuild their country, become financially independent and support their families and communities.