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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.
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.
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.