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Dual passions of flying and sport harmonize in Patricia Campos Doménech’s life. She is the first female pilot in the Spanish Armed Forces, and one of the first female professional European soccer coaches for an American team. She has won several awards for her piloting career, has been honoured as an official speaker for the U.S. organization Women in Aviation, and has also been given awards from the Spanish government on multiple occasions for both her piloting and coaching careers. Trailblazing in the Spanish Navy and in sport, she is a powerful voice for change.
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Zeliha Ünaldi, a long-standing gender advocate who attended the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, speaks on the impact of the meeting on her life. She now works as a Gender Officer in the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Turkey.
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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.
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A proud defender of human rights and known as one of the most creative people in the industry, Vesna Andree Zaimović is co-creator of Radio Sarajevo’s web portal, one of the most visited websites in the Bosnia and Herzegovina, and what many call the best news source in today’s new media landscape in the country. She was also the brain behind Manjine.ba, the first web project for the disadvantaged, highlighting triumphs in claiming rights and kick-starting an online community. A trained musicologist, she is a veteran of the Eurovision song contest, one of the longest running TV shows in history.
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The first female Minister of Defense in Spain, she began her career as a law lecturer. At the age of 27, she was elected the vice-mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat in Barcelona, and then worked assiduously towards women’s equal rights in the rule of law for several years as a parliamentarian. A working mother of one, Carme Chacón became the Vice-President of Congress, the Minister of Housing, and finally, was appointed as the first female Minister of Defense of Spain.
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Experiencing a harrowing train accident that robbed her of an arm and a leg at 19, Şafak Pavey, chose to overcome her challenges by immersing herself in the dual causes of gender equality and the environment. As the first Turkish woman parliamentarian with disabilities, she is a role model for many. She has also worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in conflict zones, produced three books, and now contributes to law-making for her country. Her mission is promoting equal rights for people of all races, creeds and religions. Winner of the International Woman of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State, she is a force to be reckoned with.
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Asel Sartbaeva is one of the first internationally recognized female scientists from Central Asia. Her research aims to discover a substance to aid in transport and storage of vaccines without refrigeration, a major issue in disease prevention globally. She was short listed for the L’OREAL-UNESCO Women in Science Fellowship for her work in vaccine preservation and is one of the 175 Faces of Chemistry, a prestigious professional organization in the UK. Successfully navigating the male dominated fields of chemistry and physics, she is currently a Royal Research Fellow at the University of Bath in the UK.
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She is often called the shining hope for people with disabilities.  Abia Akram, age 30, is an educated woman, and proud of the two Master’s degrees she holds. She personifies the cause she champions: that education can be the catalyst in a world where those with disabilities are not always taken seriously. The first female with disabilities from Pakistan to win the much sought after U.K. Government’s Chevening scholarship, Akram has continued to push for change,...
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Nicola Grinstead is Chair of the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a global movement of 10 million girls and young women in 146 countries, dedicated to supporting girls and young women to reach their full potential. In this op-ed, she emphasizes the importance of life-long learning, non-formal and self-directed education and engaging girls and boys to eradicate gender-based violence....
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Teresa Oleszczuk is a women’s rights activist who took part in the Beijing Conference in 1995. She is one of the founders of the La Strada Foundation against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery, an organization that works to combat human trafficking in Poland and in several countries across Europe.
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Gulzhan Kokbayeva, age 27, is the only female engineer for the first subway system in Kazakhstan, a country known for housing the first space launch complex in the world, the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
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At a winery at the end of a town in rural Herzegovina, a 32-year-old woman stands amid barrels of wine, staring across the vineyards. Her name is Sanja Juričić-Franić. Together with two more women, her sister and her mother, she leads the “Gangaš” winery in Čitluk, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A wife, mother and successful entrepreneur, she is an enologist who has had to combat prejudice and stereotypes in this male-dominated profession.
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Yevgeniya Goncharova creates an unfamiliar sight on the tarmac, as she goes about her daily job. At the age of 25, she flies planes, serving as a pilot for one of the biggest airline in Central Asia. One among a handful of women in a male-dominated field is how she is known not only in Kazakhstan where she is based, but also in the region.