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International Women’s Day: 15 Inspiring Women from GBC who are breaking barriers despite all odds

In celebrations of International Women’s Day, we look into the extraordinary achievements of 15, out of the hundreds of others women from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, who are inspiring the world every day with their positive contributions to the society.

Imran Ahmed Hunzai

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The United States of America has yet¬†to elect¬†its first female President. Okay, let’s switch the coordinates swiftly to Gilgit-Baltistan & Chitral (GBC)¬†‚ÄĒ¬†a mountainous region in South Asia lying amid the Himalayas. Among the many traits the region has inherited from Pakistan, male dominance outstrips the others.

For centuries, there has rarely been any notable mention of women in any given field of life except for the folklore. However, during the past two decades time, the women of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral have been breaking the barriers of not only gender discrimination but also the many challenges that are common to both men and women. At times, women have managed to leave behind their male counterparts.

Also, check #BeBoldForChange Moment of GBee’s Twitter account

Ambreen Ali

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Ambreen Ali is currently serving as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). After passing her CSS exam in 2012, she was given responsibilities in Police Service of Pakistan (PSP). She is a graduate of NUML university in Islamabad.

Amen Aamir

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Amen Aamir is a commercial pilot who started her flying career at the age of 20. She is currently under training at Rawalpindi Flying Club.

Alina Shigri

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Alina Shigri is a broadcast journalist who has worked with many Pakistani news channels like PTV News, Indus News and Aaj TV. She currently hosts The Other Side on Waqt News.

Almas Aman

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Almas Aman has become a household name after releasing three back to back hit songs. Although her mother tongue is Wakhi but she has done over ten Shina tracks.

Amna Zamir

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Amna Zamir is one of the finalists from Pakistan at British Council’s Alumni Awards 2017. She is the first civil judge from Gilgit-Baltistan and is currently serving as a Senior Civil Judge in district Ghizer of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Diana Baig

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Diana Baig claimed to fame after becoming the first Pakistani female to represent Pakistan national teams in both cricket and football.

Fatima Sohail

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Fatima will be representing Pakistan at the Asian Winter Games being held in Japan. She is a skier who continues to pursue her passion alongside her studies. She is an undergrad student at NUST in Islamabad.

Hasina Zehra

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Hasina Zehra is a TV host who works with Radio Pakistan and Hadi TV, a religious channel based out of Rawalpindi.

Karishma Ali

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Karishma is currently the only female football player from Chitral at club level. She plays for Chitral District and Highlanders Football Club. She has also represented Pakistan at Jubilee Games in Dubai.

Lakshan Bibi

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Lakshan Bibi is the first ever pilot from the remote Kalash valley in Chitral. She is also the founder and Chairperson of Kalash Indigenous Survival Project (KIPS).

Misbah Mumtaz

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Misbah Mumtaz is one of the few faces from Gilgit-Baltistan who have made their way into the competitive fashion industry in Pakistan. She is a model and regularly works for big apparel and cosmetic brands.

Natasha Baig

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Natasha Baig is a professional singer who has been part of the famous Sounds of Kolachi. She has appeared in a number of music shows and is regularly heard at major music concerts.

Natasha Sultan

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First Officer Natasha Sultan is currently the only female pilot in Shaheen Airlines. She received her training at AYLA Aviation Academy in Jordan.

Samina Baig

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Samina Baig was born and raised in Shimshal, a remote village in Gojal, Hunza. She is the first Muslim woman to climb Mount Everest.

Salima Begum

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Salima Begum is the only Pakistan teacher who has been nominated for the Global Teacher Prize 2017. She has published numerous research articles and has been acknowledged by USAID’s Teacher Education project.

There are hundreds of other women from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral who inspire us every day but we don’t see them often on media. This list is a tribute to the women!

Special thanks to Misbah Abbas.

Imran Hunzai is a Digital Media Consultant and activist based in Islamabad, Pakistan. When free, he likes to travel, do photography and play Rabab. He also runs a HONY inspired blog called Humans of Hunza. Follow him of Twitter @ihunzai.

Ghanche

Sherine Fatima Balti: The budding social media star of Baltistan

In an age when Balti folk music is fast fading, Sherine Fatima Balti has managed to garner quite an audience among Baltis through her outstanding voice.

Syed Mohsin Ali

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Sherine Fatima Balti: The budding social media star of Baltistan

Operating primarily through her Youtube channel and Facebook page from her village Bogdang India, she has now become the first Balti female social media star. Now people listening and discussing her songs is not an unusual sight in Baltistan which is getting its familiarity with the social media world.

Maintaining the integrity of Balti music, she has inculcated modern instruments in her songs, thereby giving us a fusion of both the old and the new. Her music is slow paced and uniform with an air not unfamiliar to the older Bollywood songs, yet the real magic is in her melodious voice which is the most visible and distinctive aspect of her music.

Sherine Fatima Balti

Sherine Fatima Balti during a song recording.

According to her, she was extremely passionate about music from a very early age and began singing at the age of 13. Her father and grandfather were also very interested in music, and that’s how her interest in music began. She has performed at various stages since her school years.

Without much resources at her disposal, she started posting her songs on Facebook and Youtube. And after the release of her popular songs Grifshat Sula Beik and Tsertragi Jusay Jusay, she began finding a steady audience in Baltistan. Now according to her, Baltis from all over Saudi Arabia, Australia, and China are appreciating her musical efforts.

She is the first notable Balti female singer who has risen out of a conservative Balti society. She admits that she had to face a lot of criticisms and objections in this regard. However, her faith in her singing and the support of her family got her through all this.

“Most of the people discouraged me for this profession. They said that I was a woman and that I should do what every woman does- get married and start a family. However, my parents supported me a great deal. It is only because of their support that I have been able to progress thus far.”

Very much like her music, her popular Facebook page mirrors the same effort of Balti cultural preservation and promotion. Her posts primarily feature Balti landscapes, dresses and foods while also give a glimpse of life on the other side of the border. Her attempt to engage Baltis about the distinctiveness and richness of their own culture through her Facebook page is quite outstanding. Her endeavors are bearing fruit as people are engaging in the activity of likes, comments, and shares in the social media world.

The article is part of International Women’s Day celebrations under GBee Pink.

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Climate

UNDP Pakistan names mountaineer Samina Baig National Goodwill Ambassador

Mountaineer¬†Samina Baig has been appointed UNDP’s¬†National Goodwill Ambassador For Pakistan on Monday.

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UNDP names mountaineer Samina Baig National Goodwill Ambassador For Pakistan
UNDP Pakistan

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has named Samina Baig National Goodwill Ambassador to Pakistan. The first Muslim woman to climb Mount Everest was appointed as National Goodwill Ambassador for Pakistan during an event held at Islamabad Serena Hotel on Monday.

As the UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador For Pakistan, Samina Baig will¬†lead¬†efforts to build national awareness and partnerships around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to climate change, environmental protection and¬†women’s empowerment.

UNDP names mountaineer Samina Baig National Goodwill Ambassador For Pakistan

Samina Baig poses with UNDP officials during the signing ceremony.

The¬†United Nations¬†Resident Coordinator in¬†Pakistan, Neil Buhne said “Pakistan¬†is amongst the most vulnerable countries in the¬†world¬†to climate change. Preparing for its effects, and instituting environmental protections, will safeguard economic development for future generations.

He added “Moreover, half of¬†Pakistan’s population, its¬†women, are under-represented in¬†education, the workforce and in decision-making. Empowering¬†women¬†to play their full role in society is not only an ethical imperative, it is essential for sustainable development.

Neil Buhne highlighted that UNDP’s National Goodwill Ambassadors are leaders in their societies and role models for all.

Samina Baig and UNDP Pakistan Country Director Ignacio Artaza

Samina Baig in discussion with NDP Pakistan Country Director Ignacio Artaza

UNDP¬†Pakistan¬†Country Director Ignacio Artaza highlighted the responsibilities of Samina Baig as UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador For Pakistan. “As the National Goodwill Ambassador for¬†Pakistan, Ms. Baig will use her profile to shine a light on the issues that shape¬†Pakistan’s future, and build the partnerships required to address them,” he said.

While talking to the audience at the signing ceremony Samina Baig said “With my brother, I have experienced a significant impact of global warming and climate change on our mother earth. I am honored to be the national goodwill Ambassador of¬†UNDP¬†to spread the voice to take a serious step to counter global warming and raise voice to empower¬†young¬†girls to climb the highest level within their field of profession.”

UNDP names mountaineer Samina Baig National Goodwill Ambassador For Pakistan

Samina Baig talks during UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador to Pakistan appointment ceremony.

Samina Baig was born and raised in Shimshal Valley in the Hunza district, Gilgit-Baltistan. At the age of 22, she became the first Pakistan women to climb world’s highest peak. A year after she scaled Mount Everest, she successfully climbed the highest peaks in every continent.

Samina Baig’s attempt to summit K2 was abandoned due to an unfortunate injury that left her in bed for several weeks.

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