“I think it’s something that can’t be explained in words”. “I along with my brother, Mirza Ali Baig, was climbing for ‘gender equality’ and this was the main concept of our expedition.”
These are the words of Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to conquer not only Mt. Everest, but also the other 6 highest peaks of the world. Though her brother gave up bid a few hundred meters short of the summit, but he encouraged Samina to go on and prove that women can just as well conquer mountains as men. This was another step to bring ‘women empowerment’ in action for Samina, and she did it as well. She credits her success to her brother, who did not let her give up on her mission.
“Lifting the flag of Pakistan on the top of Everest was matchless, unbelievable and feels unreal. I was a symbol of women’s empowerment, I had achieved gender equality, and altogether I represented Pakistani women and showed their courage and strength not as an individual.”
Samina and Baig started the journey together but he stepped back at approximately 8,600 meters almost 248 meters short of the summit, to prove women empowerment. Later her brother, Baig, 31, joined her and together they hoisted the green flag at the top of Everest.
Samina and her brother, Mirza Baig, belong to the Shimshaal village situated near the Chinese border. Living near the mountains her entire life, it was Samina’s dream to start mountaineering and her brother too infested her mind with this idea. They both wanted to climb mountains together in the future, and their wishes undoubtedly came true.
Always determined in spirit but initially facing limited resources, every climb proved an enormous challenge. Refusing to be deterred, in the early days Samina climbed in men’s boots which were donated. Now supported by enthusiastic and committed sponsors, which according to Dawn media includes foreign supporters, embassies and Serena Hotels but no support from Government, Samina has become the first Pakistani woman to summit all seven highest peaks in the seven continents in just less than eight months.
“Shimshali mountaineering is sort of inherited. Our ancestors built Shimshal beneath a glacier, and our community survived this harsh environment using mountaineering skills. Our grandparents and great-grandparents climbed with homemade ropes, wooden stakes and animal horns. Modern mountaineering only reached Shimshal in the 1980s, but Shimshali men soon made their mark. Four of the seven Pakistanis who have summited K2 are from my village.”
Achievements include participation in the First Pakistani Women’s Winter Climbing Expedition and later becoming the first Pakistani woman to climb Everest and the youngest Muslim woman to do so aged just 21. Speaking to Newsweek after her Everest summit, Samina explained that she climbs to empower women, she said, “I was thinking about the women of Pakistan, those who are not allowed to get education, those who are not allowed to do whatever they want to do in their life. I hope that the families will understand that the contribution of women is important and can be more powerful for building a greater country.”
On their adventure on Mt. Everest, they had a total of 5 people in their team; two Indian twin sisters and a Saudi girl included. Samina and her brother have started up an organization through which they look forward to promote gender equality and women empowerment.
The duo of the mountaineer siblings reached the peaks of seven highest mountains of the world over a span of eight months. Samina reached the summit of the following mountains: Mt Aconcagua, Argentina the highest peak in South America (6,961 m), Mt Vinson, Antarctica (4.822m), Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m) Tanzania and Mt McKinley, Alaska, (6,168 m) where she became the first Pakistani woman to climb to the top of the highest mountain in North America. Samina also scaled the following, Puncak Java (4,884 m) the highest peak in Indonesia and Europe’s highest mountain, Mt Elbrus, (5,642 m) as well as Mt Everest, world’s highest mountain (8,848 m).
“It is my intention to motivate more women to participate as this will give a message of confidence to females everywhere that if a young woman can climb mountains, she can do anything.”