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Zahra Abdelnaieem is the head of Niswa, a network of community, religious and political leaders that connects with conflict-affected groups to work towards peace and reconciliation. The group also supports survivors of gender-based violence by linking them to medical, legal and community services. Though she has lost the people closest to her and endured incredible struggle to sustain the network, she overcomes obstacles by keeping a positive attitude and tenaciously continues to reach out to her community for strength.
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Delphine Nana Mekounte, 60, was Cameroon’s National Coordinator for NGOs at the time of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She is now the Director General of CEFEPROD (Women’s Centre for Promoting Development), a nongovernmental organization that promotes the economic, social and cultural development of women and youth.
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In the landlocked Himalayan nation of Bhutan, Namgay Peldon never thought she would make history, but she did. She was elected the first women Gup, the block leader, as the nation voted for the first time, transitioning from monarchy to democracy in 2008. From Tashiding sub-district in central Bhutan, her story is unusual in a country which is beset with societal taboos and where women’s representation in politics is extremely low, with only 8.5 per cent women in the National Assembly.