Women of Achievement

This series of portraits spotlights women and girls who have made it in their respective fields — often in uncharted territories — by overcoming barriers and beating the odds to reach their goals. Although far from the limelight, their struggle, passion and work inspires all who know them and they are role models for many.


First elected female as Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Assembly, Pakistan

02 February 2016

The Honorable Dr. Meher Taj Roghani has been elected as the first female Deputy Speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly on 22 December 2015, a milestone in the Provinces electoral history. In her address H.E. Dr. Meher Taj Roghani pledged to ensure equality and empowerment for all women and girls saying: “This Country owes debt to girls and women for...more

First woman to lead an independent Pacific nation

01 February 2016

On 27 January 2016 the Republic of Marshall Islands elected its first female president; also the first woman ever to lead an independent Pacific nation. A former Minister for Education, Dr Hilda Heine was one of three women elected to the 33-member Nitijela (the Marshall Islands Parliament) in the November 2015 elections and entered parliament for her second term...more

Leading a village ushering equality

18 September 2015

The simple house of Asnaini Mirzan, the first and only female village head in Aceh province, Indonesia, is never empty. Villagers come and go, asking her advice on their daily problems from family disputes to how to establish collective fish ponds used for small business groups. A farmer by trade, she says, “my house is no longer mine, it is...more

Conquering the skies, the first woman pilot of Timor-Leste

09 September 2015

Imagine for a moment that you are stepping onto a plane. The flight attendant takes your ticket and guides you to your seat where you buckle your seatbelt and settle in. After the safety demonstration, you hear the female voice of your pilot as she announces that the plane is about to take off. According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots in 2015, women account for only 32 per cent of...more

In the midst of war, a women’s rights warrior

29 May 2015

In Afghanistan, a country steeped in tradition and years of conflict, Dr. Sarabi went on to become the country’s first female provincial governor, appointed by then President Hamid Karzai in 2005. She governed Bamyan Province and used this platform to promote the rich cultural heritage of the province. Time Magazine recognized her as a hero of the environment for her work in establishing the Band-e Amir National Park of...more

Breaking barriers with the power of paper and pen

07 May 2015

Going against the norm, she has risen in the field of media which is dominated by men in Bangladesh. An opinion-maker and thought leader, she has been the editor of the most read weekly magazine, The Star, a publication that is part of The Daily Star newspaper, for 18 years. Her satirical column “Postscript,” is a cornerstone of modern life in her country for the daring and progressive, and read by many. She is now the...more

The Good Doctor

01 April 2015

She and her team later received world recognition when they created the first generic HIV "cocktail" drug known as GPO-VIR. It cuts treatment costs significantly and was endorsed by the World Health Organization as the first regimen of treatment for HIV/AIDS patients in poor countries. Thailand made history with the drug by becoming the first country to manufacture generic HIV/AIDS drugs and...more

Leading the way for women and girls with disabilities

02 February 2015

She is the first woman from Pakistan, and the first woman with disabilities to be nominated as the Coordinator for Commonwealth Young Disabled People’s Forum and is also the chair of the Youth Council of UNICEF. Adding to her list of accolades, she is the co-chair of Asia Pacific Women with Disabilities United, and focuses much of her time on education and training...more

A crusader of human rights and dignity

01 December 2014

Winner of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, recognizing those who have contributed to advancing human rights, democracy and peace, Angkhana Neelapaijit was also honoured by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. She was placed under the government’s witness protection programme following her husband’s disappearance in 2004, and has received multiple death threats for both her own and her husband’s representation of controversial legal...more

Blogging for Democracy

01 November 2014

When I have a difficulty I tell myself – never accept the status quo. I believe that when you are born poor and ignorant, you don´t have to die that way. I did lots of self-study – without a self-study one can never be educated. I don´t like sitting and waiting for opportunities. One has to seek them by yourself. I also like associating myself with people so...more

The unstoppable police officer of Timor-Leste

21 May 2014

Winner of the prestigious Gender Equality Advocate Award of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality in November 2013, Amelia, a police officer with the Vulnerable Person’s Unit of the National Police of Timor-Leste, is a powerful voice and a role model. In a country where women make up less than 20 per cent of the...more

She builds bridges, schools and delivers results

20 May 2014

While the other villagers go about their daily lives, working the farms, running to fetch water or take a reprieve from the hot summer sun in the afternoons, articulate and determined Vandana plans how to bring long-lasting change to her community. She is raising the awareness of her village council about government schemes that can support sanitation, health and education efforts for her village. With a strong record of results, today she is seen as a leader who delivers on promises. Her council has built a village...more

Fighting the spirits, to defend and protect

15 May 2014

Monica works to get the women protection, often by relocating the accused out of the communities. She moves heaven and earth to ensure that they then have access to justice, going to the courts and not resting until the perpetrators are punished. There are some wins and some losses, but Monica is not ready to give up or give in. “There are two factors that...more

Creating history is herstory: a local girl turns public leader

15 May 2014

In the landlocked Himalayan nation of Bhutan, Namgay Peldon never thought she would make history, but she did. She was elected the first women Gup, the block leader, as the nation voted for the first time, transitioning from monarchy to democracy in 2008. Gewogs are official administrative units in Bhutan, each headed by a Gup. From Tashiding sub-district in central Bhutan, her story is unusual in a country...more