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Bangladeshi women to conquer Everest, and male egos

Publication Date : 28-03-2012

 

All women are born alike, but few reach the heights Wasfia Nazreen has climbed.

The 29-year-old Bangladeshi is on a mission to climb the highest peaks in seven continents, and has already climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mt. Acongabua in South America.

Nazreen started her journey to climb the highest mountains of Asia, and the world, on March 26, which also happened to be Bangladesh’s Independence Day.

Her expedition to climb Mt. Everest reminds of Nepal’s Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, whose climb to the summit of Everest deeply stirred the nation with pride, and later sorrow, when tragedy struck on her descent. We wish Nazreen better luck.

Nazreen’s decision to climb the highest mountains has many motivations.

Last year marked 40 years of Bangladesh’s independence. Nazreen says she realised that almost everything the rest of the world thinks when it thinks about Bangladesh is negative - the floods, slums and corruption.  She wanted to shine a light on the positive aspects, the biggest of which is the resiliency shown by her in the face of adversity.

She left her job as a development practitioner, sold her jewelry, and took loans to start her expeditions. Today what started as a personal quest has turned into a matter of pride for all of Bangladesh.

The sponsors of her expedition, all from Bangladesh, include the Liberation War Museum and a poultry farm. Her campaign has even led to the establishment of Bangladesh on the Seven Summit Foundation. The foundation is training and educating women and girls in outdoor activities and wilderness sports. Nazreen hopes the Foundation will be a small hub for all women in South Asia, and also a school for the “mind and the spirit”.

The reason Nazreen is on the lips of many Bangladeshis and also Nepalis surely has something to do with the fact that women of the region face greater obstacles in life than their male counterparts. Nazreen says that she’s not only doing it for herself, but for other women in her country and her region. By taking on the highest peaks, she’s breaking the mould of what women in the region conventionally do.

For the truth is that women have started entering spaces like schools and offices, and other human endeavours, thought to be in male domain, are also being conquered by women. But Nazreen’s efforts are somewhat different. Her expedition isn’t about "conquering Everest" or any other peak. It’s not about coming out on top either. Her campaign carries with it a much more meaningful message - that of the power of womanhood and femininity. She calls it connecting with the “divine femininity,” referring to nature’s ability to bring out the feminine instincts of both men and women. This is what makes her expedition worth a second thought, for she offers an alternative purpose to an activity that is often taken to be simply about breaking records and nourishing male egos.

 

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