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Breaking taboos

The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat works in some of the world’s most remote and disaster-prone areas. We help communities to mitigate risks from natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods and landslides, respond to disasters and build back better. 

We have built a network of nearly 40,000 active local volunteers trained in emergency response, including nine Search and Rescue Teams to International Search and Rescue Advisory Group standards. Forty percent of our emergency response volunteers are women.  Hear Gul Noori, Shamim and Fauzia, three Search and Rescue Team members in northern Pakistan, share their experiences facing natural hazards and breaking taboos as female search and rescue volunteers.

Gul Noori, who spent 22 years in the team, was one of the first to consider breaking the gender barrier. She recalls how men would complain to her family that women in the household were out in public wearing dungarees. Shamim describes how people would rather let a woman die in a disaster than be carried and rescued by men. Fauzia is planning ahead: How can girls look beyond household matters and fulfil their potential?

Rappelling mountains, administering first aid and saving lives, these women are inspiring generations of girls to take their places in society. Meet them here:

International Women’s Day is held every year on 8 March to help forge a gender equal world.