Born in 26 January 1962, Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba graduated from St. Bedes College, Himalchal Pradesh University and Punjab University from where she not only got her Masters degree but also her Ph.D in organizational Psychology in 1990.
The time after her graduation was a period of both realization and decision making for Deuba. It was in the late 1980s and the early 1990s that the importance of issues related to environment came to forefront in Nepal due to a number of developments that occurred during that period. The primary factor that gave momentum to the degradation of the environment, especially in Kathmandu valley, in a large scale was the birth of democracy. It provided people with new opportunities of not only employment but also various forms of businesses. So people from different parts of the country started migrating to the capital causing rapid increases in population which lead to high levels of pollution. This effect of the sudden rise was what stood out to Deuba at the time but it was only what happened next that caused her to actively become involved in environment conservation. A mining quarry was established in Godavari, a protected area of the country. People started to protest in masses about the destruction of the environment and Deuba also lent a voice to this protest. It was at this time that she applied to IUCN and was appointed to the post of Program Officer for the Communication and Public Information Program in January 1991 and took her first step towards professional environment conservation. In September of the same year, she became the Senior Program Officer where her responsibilities included bringing out a regular newsletter as well as making other publications press ready. She was also in charge of creating awareness about environmental issues in Nepal through the use of the press. During this period in IUCN, she learnt the importance of spreading awareness and the need for advocacy. She built her carrier on these aspects and incorporated them not only in her environmental pursuits but also in social and gender based causes. When she advanced further into the office hierarchy as a Program Coordinator she was assigned the task of conceptualizing and designing a communications and public information strategy with government partners along with editing and finalizing all of IUCN’s publication. She was also given the task of exploring the possibility of integrating gender into IUCN’s program in Nepal. In January 1994, Deuba joined the Canadian Cooperation Office as an Environmental Advisor where she provided technical assistance to the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat of the Ministry of Water Resources, designed parameters for establishing CCO’s environment fund and prepared political analysis briefs on Nepal. While with CCO she attended a summer school course on Environmental and Social Impact Assesment at the University of Ottawa, Canada in 1994. However, in September 1995 she had to quit her job as her husband was appointed the Prime Minister of Nepal and the law stated that the spouse could not work for an international organization. For the next two years she worked as a freelance gender consultant for various organizations including IUCN, CCO, UNDP, GTZ, PACT, USAID, UNFPA, UNICEF, CEPDA and the Ministry of Water Resources.
Although she could no more be directly involved with any specific organization, over the years Deuba has carried out various environment related projects. In 2003, she became the team leader for a national assessment of the effectiveness of women motivators in social mobilization of women and dalit groups in community forestry and soil conservation programs for MOFSC and DANIDA. In February and July 2000, Deuba edited and commented on Nepal’s State of Environment Report 2000 and Nepal’s Report on the Basel Convention. From 1998 to 1999, she was the communications Consultant for ADB/TA to Ministry of Population and Environment where her responsibilities included designing a national communications and public information strategy for the Ministry along with designing and implementing a newspaper column for children on environmental issues. Similarly, Deuba also published environment related material for various organizations. “Rural Micro Hydro Power Development Program: Nepal” was published in publication entitled “Generating Opportunities: Case Studies on Energy and Women”. It was published by UNDP, Bureau for Development Policy, 1 UN Plaza. NY in 2000. Similarly, "Challenges of Youth of the 21st Century: Their Present and Future - Leadership, Employment and Partnership for their Development" was a paper presented at "National Conference on Challenges for Youth" which was organized by Saraswoti Resource and Teachers Training Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2000. From 1998 to September 2006, Deuba was also a advisor to the WWF/Nepal progam where she provided input to the Terai Arc program through SAMANATA.
In 1997, she became not only one of the founding members but also the Executive Chairperson of SAMANATA. This organization works mainly as a research and training institute that works to mainstream gender and diversity issues in multi-sectors of national life. SAMANATA has adopted the strategy of targeting a wide variety of population from the grassroots, programmatic to policy level to ensure their aims and objects are fulfilled with their strength lying in their ability to network and pull together sector specific human resource as per clientele requirement. Environment based studies carried out by SAMANATA have been mostly related to the impact of boomtowns due to resettlement, the emerging socio-economic concerns during resettlements and the overall gender concerns with this aspect with focus mainly on forestry, water resources, natural resource management, soil erosion and energy. Some environment related studies carried out by SAMANATA include:
Social and Gender Auditing of the Community Development and Forest/Watershed Conservation Project 2 with (SABIHAA)/JICA
- Review of Natural Resource Management Sector Assistance Project (NARMSAP): The DANIDA Social Mobilisation Approach in the Community Forestry Implementation Component and Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Component
- Compendium of Environment Initiatives in Nepal – Canadian Cooperation Office.
Although she is the Executive Chairperson and provides leadership, generates ideas, develops and designs research and development program, Deuba is also a active member of the workforce itself as she is involved in the process of researching, analyzing and writing up the research results. She also builds up the contacts and leads the preparation of tailor made proposals for various agencies requiring services in different sectors.
She is also one of the founding members and the President of Nepal Civil Society for Disaster Relief since 2001. The organization provides relief to victims after natural disasters where a membership will includes all the associations of the spouse security forces. Her key role in the organization is to raise funds and organize to disburse relief at the shortest time possible. She is also involved with the Safe Motherhood Network Federation (SMNF) of Nepal. She was not only the founding honorary chairperson in 1996 but also the elected President from September 2005. The Network comprises of more than 467 member organizations from 59 districts out of the 75 in Nepal. In order to bring put the issue of safe motherhood into national focus, the network has adopted the strategy awareness creation, social mobilization and advocacy at all levels. The Network also plays the role of catalyst in linking clients to services. It is regarded as a dedicated and effective partner by the Ministry of Health and Population as a result the SMNF is identified as an implementing partner in the Safe Motherhood Master Plan. SMNF has received regional and international recognition and presentations about it has been made in numerous international forums and even received the Global White Ribbon Alliance Award for its success in bringing the issue of safe motherhood to national attention. Even in SMNF Deuba is a hands on leader who provides leadership by generating ideas, creating new contacts and raising funds for the programs and projects designed by different committees and members of the Network Federation. she also takes on the job of advocating and providing visibility to the issue of safe motherhood and neo natal health on a national and international level. Thus, she represents SMNF in a number of international forums and international conferences on safe motherhood and related issues.
Deuba is also the Founder and Chairperson of Rural Women's Development and Unity Centre (RUWDUC) a national NGO with focus on the remote areas of mid and far-western Nepal and has been working in remote regions of Nepal to increase the access of women and youth to multi-sectoral development programming and services through awareness raising, advocacy and service delivery. Since 1997 RUWDUC has been working in the area by organizing periodic health camps and promoting reproductive health. Since 2001 it has also been working to empower women and organize them at the community level to act as mediators for cases of violence against women and to organize a safety net for the victims. In RUWDUC as well Deuba develops ideas, promotes the NGO and its work, writes proposals, raises funds and provides guidance to the management team as and when required and oversees reporting to their different donors.
Other organizations Deuba has been involved in include the following:
Management Association of Nepal where she became the first woman to be elected President with first term from 2002 to 2004 and then was reelected for second term up to 2007. MAN is a professional membership organization dedicated to assessing and improving management in Nepal. MAN has over 300 organizational and individual members. MAN is regarded as a high-profile association as most high-level bureaucrats are members.
SAATHI where she is an advisor, founder member and past president. SAATHI has been working in the area of violence against girls and women in Nepal since 1992. SAATHI is also working in protection and rehabilitation of street children and on the issue of cross-border trafficking. SAATHI is an active partner to a number of international and national agencies in implementing CEDAW and the Beijing Platform of Action in Nepal.
She is also the Chair of the Ullens School Committee, Ullens School, Kathmandu. Ullens is Nepal's first not-for-profit distribution school. It has been supported by the Ullens Foundation which is private family foundation established by Baron Guy and Miriam Ullens. Ullens School is being developed as a centre for excellence. The school is affiliated with the Bank Street institution of New York.
In all organizations she has been and is involved in after 1997 her involvement has been voluntary with the key strategy to achieve the goals of most of the organizations was through awareness. The importance of awareness was something she learned in her early years at IUCN and has implemented the idea in all the fields she has worked in. The networks she has created along the way especially between the organizations both nationally and internationally has helped her immensely to achieve her goals for her various organizations. However with the passing years, Deuba learnt that awareness and advocacy went hand in hand. Thus, in 2006 she became a member in the General Assembly and General Committee of the Nepali Congress Party of Nepal. She believes womens activism in politics is very important for the empowerment of women which will eventually lead to the development of any society or nation. In 2008 she became a member of the Constitutional Assembly of Nepal in order to fully advocate the various social and environmental causes she has been working for over the years and make sure that her voice is heard.
With the mounting pressure that the environment of our country has been facing in recent times, Deuba has once again come forward to become an active and contributing party to an environmental cause and use her vast networks of various organizations to bring together people from different communities and different walks of life and create awareness among them through advocacy to move the issue of environment up the ladder of importance.