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No glass ceilings: For the women of G-B, sky’s the limit

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GILGIT:Women from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) have recently outshone their male counterparts in various fields, especially sports.

HunzaNews  March 10th, 2014.

A sibling thing

Eight-year-old Sonia Afzal and her 10-year-old sister Asma Afzal from G-B’s Naltar valley are the region’s latest talented catches, bagging gold medals in separate events at a skiing competition in Naltar last month.

In May 2013, Samina Baig from Gojal Valley made the region proud by becoming the first Pakistani woman to summit the world’s highest peak. Samina and her brother Mirza Ali scaled the 8,848-metres Mount Everest peak in Nepal.

Ali, 29, and Baig, 21, are natives of Shimshal village of Hunza Valley. The duo left Pakistan in December last year to undertake the ‘Seven summits in seven countries’ expedition which aims to promote gender equality and geographic harmony.

Till February, Samina and her brother had scaled the third peak of their expedition – Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, regarded to be the tallest mountain in Africa.

Similarly, sisters Amina and Ifrah Wali from G-B won a gold and silver medal respectively for Pakistan in the first South Asian Winter Games in India in 2011. They beat contestants from Sri Lanka, Nepal and India and made their hometown proud. The duo was also selected for the qualifying rounds of the Winter Olympics held in Russia this year but did not make it through.

“Our goal is far from over. We are committed to doing much more for the country,” Amina told The Express Tribune. “None of this would have been possible without the support of our family.” Amina studies environment sciences at the undergraduate level at Karakoram International University in Gilgit while her sister studies at the National University of Sciences and Technology. Amina, whose education is paid for by the university owing to her skiing talent, is also a member of the Higher Education Commission’s skiing team.

When I grow up

These women of G-B serve as role models for young girls in the region. “I want to be famous like Samina and Amina,” says Mishal Khan, a fourth-grade student in Gilgit. “Currently I am focusing on my education but I will play sports and try to be like them.”

In politics, Sadia Danish is yet another inspirational figure for young women. Adviser to the G-B Chief Minister on Tourism, Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, Danish has also been entrusted with the additional charge of information minister.

“Women in G-B need to do more to achieve the desired results and I am glad we are working towards that direction,” said Danish.

She is hopeful about the future of women in G-B, saying the region is full of talent and the only thing needed is adequate opportunity and exposure. “Our women have proved themselves over and over again at the national and international level and I am sure the future belongs to them.”

G-B may well be the only place in the country where some districts register a 100% female literacy rate. Last year, bills on women’s empowerment and child rights were passed in the G-B Assembly by the efforts of a female legislator from the Pakistan Peoples Party.


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