Wasfia Nazreen – Women’s Rights Activist and National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year

A good adventurer can’t just live the adventure. They have to share it. Whether it’s through a web series or blog, the best stories must be told.

Wasfia Nazreen has done that and much more. She was recently named one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year. The Bangladeshi mountaineer is the second Bangladeshi woman to scale Mount Everest and the first to attempt the Seven Summits.

Nazreen is also a notable activist, writer and social worker. She’s grown to prominence for her physical exploits as well as her campaign to raise awareness of sex worker and minority groups.

Throughout her career, Nazreen has always expounded on women’s education and gender equality. She herself has studied in Bangladesh, America and Scotland. She dedicated her successful Everest climb to Bangladeshi women and said, “We have achieved freedom 41 years ago, but our women are yet to enjoy freedom.” The climb is part of her “Bangladesh on Seven Summits” campaign to both celebrate the progress of Bangladesh’s women as well as encourage more social equality. Her twitter profile says she is, “in pursuit of Freedom & Balance of the Feminine & Masculine.”

This adventurer, however, doesn’t just set an example. She is also the founder of Ösel Bangladesh, a foundation for marginalized adolescent girls in Bangladesh. The organization develops education programs and outdoor training to encourage the girls to choose a lifestyle outside traditional gender roles.

She is a Goodwill Ambassador for an NGO and a youth ambassador for JAAGO Foundation and its campaign Volunteer for Bangladesh. She has also worked for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and in this capacity traveled to Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh to work for Tibetan human rights. Her work is, of course, not without controversy. In 2007 she was found with a photo of the 14th Dalai Lama and so was banned from returning to Tibet by the Chinese government.

Although she has already been named one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year, she is still in the running for National Geographic’s People’s Choice Awards.