How many countries in the world can claim that two of their daughters separately conquered the Everest within a span of a single week? None. But Nishat Majumder and Wasfia Nazreen did it. The event is stupendous in every way, a defiant reminder that given a chance Bangladeshis can achieve almost anything they set their heart and mind to. This victory of Nishat Majumder who was the first Bangladeshi woman to scale the mountain followed by Wasfia Nazreen, the first Bangladeshi woman to do it on her own is the stuff of our dreams and fantasies. In a world where our victories are cut short every day, it was left to these two incredible ladies to show what can be done even by us. The heart can’t contain the pride we feel, the joy we experience as we write these words in praise of these two young women of Bangladesh.
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Nishat climbed the Everest’s 8,850-meter-high (29,035-foot-high) summit from the northern side of the mountain in Nepal. She was accompanied on her journey by M A Mohit, the second Bangladeshi to have conquered the Everest.
Nishat and Mohit are both members of the Bangla Mountaineering and Trekking Club which has been a key force in promoting mountain climbing in Bangladesh.
Majumder, the second child of her parents, was also the first Bangladeshi woman to have conquered three Himalayan peaks higher than 6,000 metres. She conquered Himalaya’s Mera Peak (6,653.78 metres) in 2007, Singchuli Peak (6,501 metres) in 2008 and Makalu Peak (8,493.3 metres) in 2009.
Born in Laxmipur, Majumder finished her schooling from Bottomley Home Girls High School and college from Shahid Anwar Girls College. She did her bachelors and masters in accounting from Dhaka City College and currently works for Dhaka WASA as an accountant.
Nishat’s achievement has special significance because she was also climbing to highlight the “Because I am a Girl” campaign now being run by the NGO, Plan International which has also co-sponsored her expedition. Plan will launch its ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign this October and they plan to urge everyone to raise their hands, ‘Hands Up!’ they call it, in support of women’s empowerment.
Nishat Majumder as their champion will have already raised her hand on top of the Everest. “Now that has got to be the highest raised hand in the world, right? You couldn’t get any higher than the Everest,” Nova Shams, of Plan has said.
Nishat has not only given a face to the cause of girls and women but to Bangladesh as well. She has shown that our women if given a chance can achieve everything.
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Wasfia Nazreen reached the Everest on May 27 as her million friends all over the world cheered. Her climb was part of the Seven Summits campaign — celebrating 40 years of independence of Bangladesh — in which she is trying to reach all the seven top mountains of the world. She has already climbed two of them and this is her third which is also the highest in the world. Her resolve has a resonance that is rare in Bangladesh where people are more known for more sedentary pursuits and safe options. In that smoky world where people mostly only dare to make journeys from one part of the city to another braving traffic jams or buy apartments at unheard of prices, Wasfia has chosen to lead an entire life that is a remarkable example of integrity and courage. To her mountain climbing is only one of the many things she does and does so extremely well. It’s not just her work life but her life that is an example for others to follow.
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While her fame rests on her climbing exploits, she is also a highly regarded human rights activist whose work for adivasi rights is well recognized. She has written several pieces with Chakma Raja Devasish Roy that have brought much needed attention to the plight of the Indigenous people.
But she has written on many other topics and as a campaigner, her causes are many. Wasfia’s piece on the situation of the sex workers drew a lot of attention and she has never flinched when pushing a cause. Perhaps few have brought her as much difficulties as has her support of the Tibetans agitating against the Chinese. Wasfia’s activism has led to a highly stressed life at times, and she is familiar with being chased by security agencies but she has not given up. In a related venture she is writing a history of the Tibetan soldiers’ contribution to the liberation of Bangladesh. In 1971, these soldiers were at the forefront of the war and were part of Dhaka’s liberation.
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She is also a media person and a reputed photographer that makes her our own. Not only is she one of bdnews24.com columnists, she is also one of the most popular names on our pages. She is a person of many gifts and she has tried to reach her goals in all of them. Of such materials are the special ones made.
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Nishat and Wasfia are two incredible individuals who would be a source of pride to any people in the world. But they belong to Bangladesh and that makes all of us proud in what they have done and shall do so in future. Our fortune is that they belong to the same land as we do. It is our responsibility to ensure that it is not only personal determination that takes them to such heights but will to help those special amongst us.
Viva Nishat, viva Wasfia!
Afsan Chowdhury is the Executive Editor of bdnews24.com.