Hisila : From Revolutionary to First Lady – Hisila Yami

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In this fascinating book, Hisila Yami traces her journey from being a young Nepali student of architecture in Delhi in the early eighties to becoming a Maoist revolutionary engaging in guerrilla warfare in Nepal. Yami was one of the two women leaders who were a part of the politburo of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which led the People’s War in the country that changed the course of its history forever.

This is a lucidly written political memoir where Yami talks about gaining political awareness, joining protests, being imprisoned, participating in the People’s War, and, later, her experiences as the first lady and a minister. But, at the same time, this is also a vivid narrative that offers touching glimpses into her personal life. She candidly writes about falling in love and marrying a fellow politician, Baburam Bhattarai, who later went on to become the prime minister of Nepal. From how she balanced her political life with motherhood to what it really meant to be a woman in the communist party that launched a civil war – Yami tells it all in what is truly an unforgettable account of a remarkable life.

About the Author

Hisila Yami is a Nepali politician and an architect. Born into a well-known Newar family in Kathmandu in 1959, she started her revolutionary life as a student activist in 1978. During the 1990 uprising against the Panchayat regime in Nepal, Yami was one of the most prominent women leaders. She has been arrested many times for her anti-monarchy stance. She graduated from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi, India, in 1982 and completed her master’s from Newcastle University, UK, in 1995. The same year, she became the president of the All Nepal Women’s Association (Revolutionary). She also taught at the Institute of Engineering in Pulchowk, Kathmandu, for thirteen years.

Hisila Yami went underground in 1996 during the People’s War (PW) in Nepal. She went on to become a politburo member of the CPN (Maoist), headed the Women’s Department, was a member of the International Department and the secretary of the People’s Power Consolidation Department in Rolpa during the PW.

In April 2007, Yami joined the interim government of Nepal as the minister of physical planning and works. She won the Constituent Assembly elections in March 2008 from Kathmandu’s Constituency 7 and took over as the minister of tourism and civil aviation in April 2008 and the minister of land reform and management in August 2011.

She is married to a fellow architect and politician, Baburam Bhattarai, who went on to become the prime minister of Nepal (from August 2011 to March 2013). In 2015, Yami, Bhattarai and some other leaders abandoned the CPN (Maoist) to start the Naya Shakti Party, which later evolved into the Janata Samajwadi Party, Nepal.

Yami is a regular contributor to several publications in Nepal. She is also the author of People’s War and Women’s Liberation in Nepal.


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