Living in a highly patriarchal society; some girls staying in a remote village in the northern region of Pakistan, close to the border with China, go to the Shimshal Mountaineering School.


People living in the northern Hunza valley, follow the moderate Ismaili sect of Islam, which has a more liberal attitude towards women. At the school, these women are trained to climb some of the world’s highest peaks. These women are now going against the traditions that dictate women to work domestically.


They are currently training for jobs that have always been done by men exclusively. This includes carpentry and acting as climbing guides on the Himalayan peaks. Times of India reports that Niamat Karim, the climbing instructor teaches the students: “You have to be careful, check your equipment and the rope; any slight damage can result in death.”


The school was set up in 2009 with the support of Italian climber Simone Moro. This year the first batch of women to train as high altitude guides at the Shimshal Mountaineering School, is going to embark on practical demonstrations of climbing class.


[Picture Courtesy: Hindustan Times ]

Shimshal is the highest settlement in the Hunza valley at 3,100 metres above sea level and is connected to the rest of the world by a rough jeep-only road. Despite no access to electricity (except solar panels that are bought from China), no running water and the isolation; the literacy rate in the village of just 250 households, is a whopping 98%.


Bibi Gulshan, a mother-of-two whose late husband died while fighting in the army and who currently works as a carpenter, told   Times of India , “I started my job just 10 days after my husband was martyred, my friends mocked me saying instead of mourning my husband I had started the job of a men but I had no choice — I had to support my kids.”


Even though these women are doing their best, there is a long way to go as people’s attitudes need to change in the region as well.