On top of the world
Samina Baig is a 23-year-old Pakistani woman who created history earlier this year by becoming the first Pakistani women to climb the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest. Samina will soon be embarking on an extraordinary journey in which she, along with her brother, Mirza Ali Baig will climb the seven highest peaks across all seven continents. Beenish Javed met Samina in Islamabad.
Samina a humble and soft spoken girl belongs to a small village, Shimshal, near the Pakistan-China border in the upper Hunza region. This region is famous for its beautiful, huge and dangerous icy mountains.
Samina grew up watching these mountains and always dreamed of becoming a professional mountaineer. “My brother started mountain climbing at the age of 16, I grew up listening to his stories. He would tell me about the beautiful sceneries and that many foreign mountaineers came for trekking and not only men, but women come too.”
This motivated Samina and she started going with her brother for treks. She formally started mountain climbing at the age of 19, in 2010. Samina belongs to a village where there is still no electricity, no internet and no telephone, but because of her passion for climbing, she will soon be traveling all over the world and will be connecting with hundreds of people of different nationalities.
The siblings will be climbing Mt Aconcagua in Argentina, Mt Vinson in Antarctica, Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mt Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia , Mt Denali in USA, Mt Albrus in Russia and her brother will climb Mt Everest alone as she has already climbed it.
When I asked her how she felt about the big opportunity she says, “ I am lucky that I was surrounded by a loving family who believed that I also have an equal right to explore the beauty of my land, to step out of my home and to see the world”. Samina further emphasized that her journey is a message that Pakistani women are not suppressed and kept in their homes as is commonly perceived. “ I went to climb the Everest with my brother but he stopped 2oo meters short of the summit and gave me a chance to reach the summit first. He then turned back to give a message of gender equality and women empowerment.”
As a responsible citizen of Pakistan, Samina believes in training the youth and especially the women in Pakistan. Samina and her brother Mirza Ali have started the Pakistan Youth Outreach Program. Through this program they educate and raise awareness about outdoor sports and also do research work on glaciers and mountains and encourage women’s participation in adventure sports in Pakistan.
Samina believes that Pakistani women have great potential they just need support from their families.“ My message to everyone is that if my brother could create opportunities for me, if my family stood by me then they must also support their daughters and sisters, they must educate them so that they can also achieve their dreams like I did”, says Samina.
Interview: Beenish Javed
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Beenish Javed is a reporter working for ARY News, Islamabad. She has been a fellow of the Friedrich Ebert foundation (FES). You can follow Beenish on Twitter @Beenishjaved.
Date04.12.2013 | 15:13