Education is highest peak, every girl deserves chance to summit: Naila Kiani


Pakistani mountaineer Naila Kiani in a picture that she uploaded on her Instagram account on May 30, 2024. —Instagram/ naila._.kiani

Celebrated mountaineer Naila Kiani, who was appointed as the National Goodwill Ambassador for Girls’ Education last month, has said education was the highest peak one could climb and every girl deserved the chance to reach the summit.

As a goodwill ambassador for girls’ education in Pakistan, Kiani’s mission is to use her platform to inspire and advocate for educational reforms, especially in the most underserved regions.

In a telephonic interview with APP from Dubai on Sunday, she said her journey began in the narrow, winding alleys of her hometown in Rawalpindi, where she first discovered her love for climbing.

Her passion led her to scale some of the world’s highest peaks, but her heart always remained with the girls back home, whose dreams were often stifled by societal and economic barriers, she stated, adding that her education had been her most reliable anchor, enabling her to dream and achieve beyond the ordinary.

“I dreamed of touching the sky. Education gave me the wings to reach those heights”, she said.

As a goodwill ambassador, Naila focused on three key areas including advocacy, mentorship, and resource mobilisation. She believed that these pillars could transform the educational landscape for girls in Pakistan. 

“Climbing is just like achieving your dreams and each step, no matter how small, brings you closer to the top,” the goodwill ambassador explained.

To a question, Kiani said that education was her biggest achievement even more than mountaineering and it was recognised by the government to appoint her as a goodwill ambassador for girls’ education.

To another query, the only woman in Pakistan summitting world’s 11 out 14 highest peaks, said that she would work on the government’s guidelines to promote girls’ education adding that she would inspire them from her education journey which started from a federal public school of Rawalpindi and concluded at Queen Mary University, London, from where she did Aerospace Engineering with special efforts of her mother.

“I had a very tough routine during my education in London. I worked at night and studied during the day. I had sleepless nights for about four or five years to complete my degree. 

My struggle for education was higher than the mountains. People know because of my mountaineering, but I reached there by my education which gave me strength to utilise in life. No one has ever thought in Pakistan that a Rawalpindi girl will climb the highest mountains within two years. I’m much blessed.” she said.

She said there was a need to “penetrate education” by viewing the cultural norms and practices. The mindset of the region where they encountered resistance to girls’ education was changing with time, she maintained.

“The most important thing is we should not go against the culture of the areas where we want to embed education,” she emphasised.

Kiani noted that she had been tasked to raise awareness about girls’ education besides inspiring them and to promote the initiatives undertaken by the government including IT, AI and infrastructure development.

She explained that education was the main source of her achievements in sports and hoped that she would make a meaningful contribution as the ambassador.


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