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Asnaini Mirzan decided to create space for women in local politics after watching her parents live a life of public service. The first and only female head of the village council in Aceh province, she demonstrates through her own example that women can be leaders, farmers and mothers simultaneously. Her goals to improve women’s access to health care, achieve gender parity in schools and create transparent administrative processes have seen much progress, along with contributing to peace and development for the village. She also teaches agricultural courses for women to support women’s economic independence.
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.