ISLAMABAD: Renowned mountaineer Samina Baig was on Monday appointed as the ‘National Goodwill Ambassador’ for Pakistan by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The first Pakistani woman to have climbed Mount Everest, Ms Baig will lead efforts to build national awareness and partnerships around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those related to climate change, environmental protection, youth and women’s empowerment.
Born in Gilgit-Baltistan, Ms Baig became the first Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest at the age of 22. By the time she turned 23, she had climbed the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents.
Awarded the Pride of Performance by the government, today she presides over the Pakistan Youth Outreach Foundation to encourage youth, especially women, to participate in outdoor activities. As a mountaineer, she bears witness to the critical importance of preserving Pakistan’s fragile ecosystems and preparing for the effects of climate change.
Ms Baig said: “I am greatly honoured to be part of UNDP. From the remotest village of Pakistan and reaching the summit of the world’s tallest mountain and beyond the borders, scaling a peak in Antarctica and the seven highest peaks of the seven continents, my purpose was to empower women through these adventures and encourage gender equality.
“With my brother, I have experienced significant impact of global warming and climate change on our mother earth. I find this honour as the national goodwill ambassador of UNDP to spread the voice for climate change and environmental protection and advocate empowering young girls to climb the highest level within their field of profession.”
UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan Neil Buhne said: “Pakistan is amongst the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Preparing for its effects, and instituting environmental protections, will safeguard economic development for future generations.
“Moreover, half of Pakistan’s population, its women, is under-represented in education, the workforce and in decision making. Empowering women to play their full role in society is not only an ethical imperative, it is essential for sustainable development.
UNDP Country Director Ignacio Artaza said: “Ms Baig will use her profile to shine a light on the issues that shape Pakistan’s future, and build the partnerships required to address them.”