The 2nd Pakistani woman in the BBC 100 List of 2023 is Afroze-Numa, a Wakhi shepherdess from Shimshal Valley. Read on to find out more about the custodian of the dying tradition.
You would think the year’s 100 BBC women’s list would only be featuring all CEO’s, women in tech, social media and beauty, executives, influencers or politicians but it’s heartening to see that’s not entirely the case. BBC 100 Women list names 100 influential and inspiring women around the world every year. The BBC has revealed its annual list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2023.
2 Pakistani women made it to this year’s list: Afroze-Numa and Neha Mankani alongside prominent figures such as former US First Lady Michelle Obama, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, Ballon d’Or-winning footballer Aitana Bonmatí, AI expert Timnit Gebru, feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Hollywood star America Ferrera, and beauty mogul Huda Kattan.
BBC Honours Afroze-Numa: Not An Influencer, Executive Or A Politician But A Shepherdess Deeply Immersed In Centuries-Old Traditions
Afroze-Numa is not a politician, executive, or influencer. Instead, she is a woman deeply immersed in centuries-old traditions and knowledge. Her efforts significantly contribute to sustaining an entire obscure region in Pakistan.
The BBC 100 Women list acknowledged Afroze-Numa for her efforts towards her community as “one of the last Wakhi shepherdesses”, left sustaining the historic tradition to day. Afroze-Numa has dedicated almost thirty years of her life to caretaking of goats, yaks and sheep, her name synonymous to the cultural and economic significance of the family trade, now facing extinction in Pakistan’s Shimshal valley.
Shimshal is a deeply enclaved village in a remote valley of Northern Pakistan, with no easy connection to other valleys except by mountain trails. Until the relatively new connection to the KKH (Karakorum Highway), Shimshalis were pretty much self-sufficient and the products of the altitude pasture formed the major source of Shimshal food supplies both for consumption or selling. Still today, it’s an important source of subsistence.
One Of The Only Remaining Custodians Of The Dying, Women-Led Tradition
Nestled in the mountains of the Karakorum range in Northern Pakistan, the Wakhi ethnic community that resides there are proud of this unique women-led tradition yet now also increasingly aware of the harsh truth of being the only remaining custodians, of a fading ancestral knowledge. The centuries old tradition is now dying out in Pakistan’s Shimsal valley as the young who had learnt the trade from their mothers and grandmothers move to more developed and accessible regions of the country.
Wakhi shepherdesses lead their flocks to high-altitude pastures at 4,800 meters (16,000 feet) above sea level. In this rugged terrain, they craft dairy products for barter while ensuring their animals graze. The revenue generated has brought prosperity to the village, enabling them to afford education for their children. Afroze-Numa still fondly remembers being the first woman in the valley to own a pair of shoes.
Did you know about this tradition?