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Living in a country where patriarchy is deeply entrenched, Nazokat Begmatova, a 34-year old women from a village in southern Tajikistan took an unusual professional path as a humanitarian deminer. Delaying marriage and strapping on 25 kilograms of equipment on her body daily, she broke stereotypes of what a working woman looks like. Her desire to be active, to develop her personal skills and explore more opportunities for economic independence motivated her to overcome her immense fear of mines. She now works as part of an all-female demining team.
Dr. Erna Takazawa is the first and only optometrist in Samoa, and is also one of the first winners of the Queen’s Young Leader Award for her transformative work in eye health. Practicing optometry at the National Hospital Service, she also works in partnership with an NGO to provide sight to children with disabilities. As Clinical Director for Samoa’s Special Olympics Opening Eyes Programme, she has screened over 200 athletes with disabilities and trains teachers to detect eye issues early in their students.
Kurbongul Kosimova established the first long-term shelter for women survivors of violence from the conflict as well as domestic violence, and their children. Her organization also supports survivors by forming sustainable self-help groups.