Maya Gurung is 39-years-old as of 2023. She is from Nepal, living in Kathmandu, where she leads the Nepal Street Vendors Trade Union (NEST). After joining NEST, she first became the head of the local committee. Maya was then elected as Women’s Committee Coordinator and continued to rise through the ranks as Secretary-General and Vice-President, until now. She is the elected President of NEST. She is also a former board members of GEFONT, the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions.
Kathmandu, January 5 – The Nepal Street Vendors’ Unions (NEST) is mobilizing their members across Kathmandu to a mass protest planned for January 9th to push back against the evictions and harassment affecting 34,000 street vendors in the city who have been suffering for months from a “clean-up” operation by mayor Balendra Shah. The global alliance of street vendors, StreetNet International, urges workers’ organizations across the world to stand in solidarity with NEST and defend their right to work and their right to the city!
The protest in Kathmandu in September 2022. Photo credit NEST
Discriminatory urban policies against the working poor
In May 2022, a new mayor, Balendra Shah, was elected to rule the Metropolitan City of Kathmandu. He made his first priority to “clean the city” from the garbage, but that is not all: he also instructed the Metropolitan Police to clear all areas from the presence of street vendors, which resulted in a daily experience of violence for our members. In Kathmandu street vendors have been banned from their usual places of business and unable to work for months. This has resulted in loss of incomes and livelihoods.
The international organization Human Rights Watch has documented the assault on the rights of the urban poor taking place in Kathmandu, which are threatening up to 34,000 vendors in the city, many of which are women who have no other alternative source of income or employment.
Mass mobilization to secure workers’ rights
In response, our affiliate NEST and the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) organized a public protest in September. After the demonstration in September, the leaders provided a memorandum to the Mayor and said that if nothing was done to ensure the right to work of street vendors in public spaces, more protests would follow.
The situation hasn’t changed since. NEST is planning to rally a big mass of vendors in the streets of Kathmandu on Monday, January 9th to demand that authorities respect the right to work freely and to occupy public spaces as citizens!
“One of the various pressure strategies we put in place to protect the rights and interests of the street vendors is organizing a strong, public demonstration”, says Maya Gurung, leader of NEST and member of StreetNet International Council. “In Nepal, many protests have been planned thanks to NEST for two decades, but the state has never been serious about the creation of policies and laws in favor of street vendors. On January 9th, 2023, on the occasion of the twenty-first anniversary of the foundation of NEST, we will be protesting against the repressive behavior of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. Everyone is welcome to participate!”
We are urging all workers’ organizations and coalitions defending the right to work and the right to the city to stand in solidarity with street vendors in Kathmandu and amplify their struggle and demands. There can be nothing for us without us!
Chet Sapkota, also known as Kumar, was born in 1968 in the district of Kaver in Nepal. Unlike his sisters, he was given the chance to attend school, but spent most of his childhood in poverty. This led him to question the discrimination and different treatment for rich and poor people. When he was a teenager, he joined an organized that opposed the authoritarian monarchy in Nepal, going to underground activities with the goal to end the inequalities in the country. Eventually, he had to leave for the capital city of Kathmandu due to the repression of the State. He started working in a factory and became part of a trade union. He was later arrested and tortured by authorities and had to leave his job. After recovering from serious body injuries, Kumar started a street business and became an advocate for the rights of street vendors and other informal traders in Nepal, a struggle he has been leading for decades. Read Kumar’s full biography here.
Date of creation: May 23, 2003
AIMS: protection of the rights of self-employed workers
Nepal Street Vendors’ Unions (NEST) is the Federation of Street Vendors or the workers involved in street business, affiliated to the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT).
The federation has been established for the protection of the rights of the workers who are washing dishes, selling house utensils, stove-pins, dolls, foods, vegetables, watches, clothes and many more sitting in the street. Covered the self-employed, this union has the network of vendors to the traders using vehicles or walking on foot for selling goods in bags. The federation has been registered at the Department of Labour 87th federation in May 23, 2003.
StreetNet welcomes the Nepal Union of Street Traders (NEST-Nepal) and Moldova-Business-Sind (Moldova) as newly established StreetNet Regional Focal Points (RFP) for Asia and Europe respectively.
Recently, at the 2018 International Council meeting, StreetNet leadership approved the recommendation of its affiliates from Asia and Eastern Europe to move the StreetNet RFPs for Asia to Nepal and the RFP for Europe to Moldova.
NEST appointed Brother Narayan Neupane, who has served as a member of StreetNet International Council (2013-2016) as the RFP Contact Person. He will run the RFP work from NEST with technical support from the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), with which NEST is affiliated. (more…)
National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), StreetNet Affiliate and Focal Point for Asia reacted immediately as soon as they heard about the plight of Nepal, when the devastating earthquake struck on 25 April 2015. NASVI sent an appeal letter around the world for humanitarian aid to assist the affected Nepalese people.
On 17 May 2015, a truck loaded with essential supplies for more than 131 families set off on a two-day journey from Patna to Nepal.
For the injured and other earthquake-affected people in Nepal, NASVI in partnership with NIDAN and StreetNet international had sent one truck full of relief food including rice, salt, oil and pulses.
"We appreciate the quick response of our partners, coming to the aid of earthquake stricken Nepal," said Arbind Singh National Coordinator for NASVI. "The relief goods will be handed over to the Nepal Street Vendors Union (NEST) who are working hard to provide urgent help to the most vulnerable people impacted in Nepal.
The Nepal Earthquake has caused thousands of people to be displaced and injured with many sadly losing their lives. Assistance will be needed for months to come.
You can help by making a financial donation via the following bank if you are living outside of India:
New Association of Street Vendors of India
Account Number: 912010047605315
IFSC Code: UTIB0000738
Branch: Jhandewala Extn
If you living in India you can donate via online
or visit this link if you live in other countries
For more information, please contact
The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI)
Coordination Office: 6 School Lane,
Opposite Hotel Lalit, New Delhi-110001, India,
Tel/Fax: 011- 41513014/ 41514726; Mob: +91 9810950121
National Coordinator (NASVI)