From where I stand...

This new series captures the unique and powerful stories of people around the world, through compelling first-person accounts of their daily sustainable development challenges and how they are bringing about change.

Malvika Iyer. Photo: MHPV

Malvika Iyer

“Being a person with disability is challenging. Being a woman with disability adds extra challenges” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Lt. Col. Wafa Sharqawi. Photo: UN Women/Cindy Thai Thien Nghia

Wafa Sharqawi

“‘Have you lost your mind?’ was the typical reaction from friends and family when I decided to quit my job as a teacher in UNRWA school at my refugee camp to join the Palestinian Civil Police in 1997...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Shirley Pryce. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Shirley Pryce

“Domestic workers cannot have equal rights until there are laws in place to protect them...” SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Florence Luanda Maheshe. Photo: UN Women/Eddy K. Momat

Florence Luanda Maheshe

“In the camp too, life was never easy. There wasn’t enough food to feed myself and six teenagers, and now my two daughters who were raped were pregnant...” SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

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Gulzada Serzhan. Photo: UN Women MCO Kazakhstan/Marina Konstantinova

Gulzada Serzhan

“To stop violence against women, in the workplace and other spaces, we need more women at decision-making positions in all fields...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Pili Hussein Photo: UN Women/Deepika Nath

Pili Hussein

“I thought to myself, I can do this too. Why should it matter that I am a woman?...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Hayfa Sdiri. Photo: UN Women/Emad Karim

Hayfa Sdiri

“I prefer not to tell people my age at first—people tend to not take me seriously because I am a young woman...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Aissata Ibrahim Maiga. Photo: UN Women/Gaoussou Cherif Haidara

Aissata Ibrahim Maiga

“I wanted to be in the media since I was a child. But I was pregnant at 14 years of age and by 15, I was married...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Natalia Minayeva. Photo: UN Women MCO Kazakhstan/Tatyana Bardina

Natalia Minayeva

“When I discovered that I was HIV-positive 20 years ago, my first thought was that I was going to die. There wasn’t much information about HIV, just unconfirmed rumors and misinformation...” SDG 3: Good health and well-being

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Maia Taran. Photo: UN Women/ Marina Vatav

Maia Țaran

“Just seeing how he opened the door and threw his boots up in the air, I knew how the rest of the night was going to be like...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Aiturgan Djoldoshbekova and her mother Aigul Alybaeva. Photo: UN Women/Theresia Thylin

Aiturgan Djoldoshbekova and Aigul Alybaeva

“Since my childhood I have seen girls and women not being treated equally as boys and men. I see this in everyday life and in the films we watch...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Raja Shahwan. Photo: UN Women/Ezz Zannoun

Raja Shahwan

“I insisted on completing my Bachelors’ degree while I was already married and had three children. When I started looking for a job, even my best friend said I should focus on caring for my children and husband...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Hajiya Halima Mahdi. Photo: UN Women

Hajiya Halima Mahdi

“Inequality is at the root of the conflict. When you have peace in the home, you can have peace in the society...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Khet Kumari Ghimere. Photo: UN Women/Pradeep Shakya

Khet Kumari Ghimere

“When I was 21, I went to Kuwait to work as a domestic helper. I loved children and the proposal to babysit two children of a senior police officer sounded like a good job for me. As soon as I arrived, I realized that my job was not just to ‘babysit’...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Flor Isava-Fonseca. Photo: EFE/Miguel Gutierrez for UN Women

Flor Isava-Fonseca

“When I was elected to the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1990, it was something unheard of. The Committee had 11 men, no one thought they would see a woman sitting there...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Abby Wambach. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Abby Wambach

“If you think you're treated unfairly, don't wait for the fear of rocking the boat; rock the boat...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Lorraine Kakaza. Photo: UN Women Cambodia/Helen Sullivan

Lorraine Kakaza

"The village where I live is surrounded by mines. The biggest challenge that we face is the lack of clean and safe water...” SDG 13: Climate action

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Maruti Joshi

Maruti Joshi

“When I joined the Indian police force in 1997, I was the first and only female officer in a batch of 35 male officers...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Sita Shrestha stands infront of community tab at Irkhu VDC-7 in Sindhupalchwok, Nepal. Photo: UN Women/N. Shrestha

Sita Shrestha

“For as long as I can remember, I have been walking miles every morning before school to fetch water for my family...” SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

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Patricia Pérez Gómez

Patricia Pérez Gómez

“From a young age, I have worked looking after children. Here, in Chiapas, migrant workers come from many states and countries....”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Stella Cosmas Chetto. Photo: UN Women/Stephanie Raison

Stella Cosmas Chetto

“At first, my husband was not very supportive because he said ‘politics is a big challenge, you will spend a lot of money and, as a woman you will not gain enough support because politics is for men.’ But I continued and he saw that I was gaining support, he changed his mind...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Atefe Mansoori, 52, from Afghanistan, is Director of Abdullah Muslim Company, which processes and exports saffron.

Atefe Mansoori

"Farmers didn’t think that I would be able to handle this business, because I am a woman and this is not a woman’s job...” SDG 2: Zero hunger

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Assétou Touré is a 49-year-old woman from Mali and a survivor of FGM. UN Women Mali/Coumba Bah

Assétou Touré

“I was 6 years old when I was cut. For me, the most traumatic experience was seeing what my older sister went through. She wasn't as lucky as me...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Yanar Mohammed. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Yanar Mohammed

“The situation is very grim in Iraq. We run into many young women who have run away from their homes, who have been trapped by a trafficking group who have put them in brothels, who want to escape to have a better life, and they cannot go back home because they will be killed...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Desiree Akpa Akpro Loyou, 37, is a social worker and Deputy Commissioner General responsible for training, for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in Cote d'Ivoire. Photo: World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

Desirée Akpa Akpro Loyou

“I was abused twice. The first time was when I was in primary school and was 8 or 9 years old...” SDG 4: Quality education

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Pratima Gurung. Photo:  UN Women/Ryan Brown

Pratima Gurung

"With the changing climate and recurring disasters, indigenous women are more at risk than ever before...” SDG 13: Climate action

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Sarah Quaye Reeves.  Photo: UN Women/Winston Daryoue

Sarah Quaye Reeves

“The main challenge for me as a woman business owner is the daily sexual advances from male customers and men who represent offices that I provide catering services for. Some demand sex before awarding a contract...” SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Casar Jacobson. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Casar Jacobson

“I think technology can be part of the solution for women with disabilities. It can truly empower us, if we can access it. Technology sees skills before gender or disability...” SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

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Tatiana Covalciuc. Photo: UN Women Europe and Central Asia/Rena Effendi

Tatiana Covalciuc

“I don’t want others to struggle as I did for decent work. That’s why I have decided to apply to be a Councilor in the local government to contribute to the economic growth of my city...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Sandra Letio. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Sandra Letio

“When I first started, no one thought I would be so successful. Many people refused to take me seriously, or give me contracts, because I was young...” SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Emm Ali. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

Emm Ali

“I started learning how to weave carpets from recycled material. With every thread [that] I wove, I felt like I was weaving away my sorrows...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Shurouq Al Hamaideh. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

Shurouq Al Hamaideh

“They said that children would not have enough patience or the ability to learn coding and programming. But children can surprise you...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Francesca De Antoni, 31, is a UN Volunteer and a Programme Coordinator based in UN Women’s office in Mali for a project supported by the Peace Building Fund. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Francesca De Antoni

“When it comes to peace, men are still the main players in the formal talks. That needs to change...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Nada Marković is a human rights activist from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: UN Women

Nada Marković

“Helping women heal from the scars of the conflict means giving them control over their lives...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Balla Mariko. Photo: UN Women/Gaoussou Cherif Haidara

Balla Mariko

“In Mali, violence against women has reached a point that we couldn’t have imagined before. We are burying our sisters today, tomorrow it could be our daughters...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Rita Lopidia Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Rita Lopidia

“The best part of my youth has been spent working for peace. Now it feels like everyone is slowly giving up on South Sudan. But giving up is not an option for me...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Ileana Crudu. Photo: Doina Stoicescu

Ileana Crudu

“In my community, most people believe that women are not as logical as men are. This affects the choices you make in life—it tells you that some jobs are just not for you...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Edna Valdez. Photo: UN Women/Norman Gorecho

Edna Valdez

“I went to Hong Kong as a domestic worker in 1996. I worked longer hours than my contract stipulated, I couldn’t take time off...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Lenche Zdravkin. Photo: Mirjana Nedeva

Lenche Zdravkin

“It took me only two days to realize who they were and why they were passing by my house by the railway track. I started making tea, boiling eggs and buying fruits to give them. But more refugees started coming...” SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

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Haidara Djeneba Sy. Photo: UN Women/Coumba Bah

Haidara Djeneba Sy

“Extremism started spreading slowly, like a cancer, since the conflict erupted in 2012. Right now, there is a real fear of radicalization and recruitment of our youth by extremist groups...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Sinet Seap with her former youth organization Youth Resource Development Programme and their volunteers. Photo: UN Women/Mariken B. Harbitz

Sinet Seap

“I sold my gold earrings to pay for the first year of university in Phnom Penh...” SDG 4: Quality education

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Micaele Fernandes.

Micaele Fernandes

“Gender inequality in my community is an everyday struggle. Women are still expected to be submissive to men in professional and social settings and are judged severely...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Tebogo Mashego

Tebogo Mashego

“Most mining companies, government and big businesses do not procure from local women-owned businesses...”SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

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Yoeurn Reaksa has been employed at a garment factory for over a year. Photo: UN Women Cambodia/Lisa Taieb

Yoeurn Reaksa

“The men at the factory would stare at me and tell me that I was old enough ‘to be eaten. I was the newcomer. Walking the small distance from my sewing machine to the toilet used to be very uncomfortable.’ New women coming to work at the factory often experienced harassment...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Maria Judite da Silva Ballerio. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Maria Judite da Silva Ballerio

"I have a niece who has had the Zika virus. She’s indigenous. Women in Brazil are in a state of panic...” SDG 3: Good health and well-being

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Lucía del Socorro Basante

Lucía del Socorro Basante

“I was scared to become a candidate [in the Department of Nariño, Colombia], despite all my years of experience as a lawyer. Fear paralyses you. The fear that male councillors will raise their voices, the fear of not being capable, of being in men’s territory...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Sonja Dimitrijoska. Photo: UN Women/Mirjana Nedeva

Sonja Dimitrijoska

“Although the job can be very stressful and intense, I love what I am doing. I started working as a humanitarian worker at the refugee transit centre in Tabanovce* [former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia] in October 2015. Trains arrived every two to three hours and we had around 10,000 people arriving and leaving per day...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Pelin Aslantaş, 43, is the only female bus driver in the city of Edirne, in north-western Turkey, where UN Women provided gender-responsive budgeting training to the municipality so that when budgets are planned, they respond to the needs of all, men and women. Photo: UN Women/Gizem Yarbil

Pelin Aslantaş

"I am the only woman bus driver in the city, among 202 men drivers...” SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Laura Bosnea, 28, Roma woman elected as local councilor. Photo credit: UN Programme “Women in Politics”

Laura Bosnea

"When I was 21, my husband 'stole'* me from my father. I was a student at the time. My father agreed, with one condition—if my husband would allow me to finish law school. But we ended up having two kids and I couldn’t complete my studies...” SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

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Janneth Lozano Bustos. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Janneth Lozano Bustos

“Expanding indigenous women’s rights strengthens the collective rights of the community...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Waad Hayef Alhlaili. Photo: UN Women/Emad Karim

Waad Hayef Alhlaili

“I want to create a space where we can be safe from violence and know our rights...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Bondu Salia. Photo: UN Women/Cecil Nelson

Bondu Salia

“I am now able to provide a good meal for my children, pay their school fees and even set aside some money as savings...”SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Yayi Bayam Diouf. Photo: UN Women Senegal

Yayi Bayam Diouf

“They said I couldn’t fish because I was a woman and the fish wouldn’t take the bait from a menstruating woman...”SDG 14: Life below water

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Abla Al Hajaia. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

Abla Al Hajaia

“My sister, who's a lawyer and a woman rights activist, encouraged me to run for local elections. I hesitated at first; even if women are selected, they are expected to be a mere accessory...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Saudita Marku. Photo: UN Women Albania/Violana Murataj

Saudita Marku

“I would like to develop my entrepreneurship, marketing and communications skills to grow my business and improve the guest house’s facilities and overall service...” SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Oralia Ruano Lima. Photo: UN Women/Rosendo Quintos

Oralia Ruano Lima

“Women were expected to have babies and stay home, while the men earned and made all the decisions. Not anymore. Now women have a voice...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Chum Sopha, now 29, works with HIV-positive women in Roka Village in north-west Cambodia.

Chum Sopha

“I was 27 years old and living in Thailand when I heard about the big HIV outbreak in my Cambodian village. I noticed a skin rash on my body, a common symptom of HIV, and I went back to Cambodia to get tested...” SDG 3: Good health and well-being

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Elizabeth Chatuwa. Photo: Malawi Girl Guides/Otchiwe Nkosi

Elizabeth Chatuwa

“Child marriage is a very big problem in Malawi. As soon as a girl reaches puberty, everyone thinks she is ready for marriage...” SDG 5: Gender equality

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Debora Barros Fince (top left) is a Wayúu indigenous activist, human rights defender and lawyer from the community of Bahía Portete, La Guajira, Colombia. Photo: UN Women/Nathan Beriro.

Debora Barros Fince

“For sustainable peace, there has to be investments in social development—in education, health, adequate housing and water. And, women must get the role that they deserve...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Florah Maswanganyi. Photo: UN Women/Helen Sullivan

Florah Maswanganyi

“I’m a small-scale farmer from Giyani Village. I started with three poultry houses with 1,000 chickens each. But last year I lost 1,800 ready-for-market chickens because of the drought...” SDG 13: Climate action

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Monira Hwaijeh. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Monira Hwaijeh

“First, I had to stop working because we couldn’t access the communities in the suburbs of Damascus once the conflict started. Then, I lost all my friends. None of them are left in Syria—they have either left the country or are in prison...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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Rubia Akter.  Photo: UN Women/Tapati Saha

Rubia Aktar

“I migrated to Abu Dhabi in 2011, looking for a decent life. As soon as I arrived, I realized that it was not the job that I was promised...” SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

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Khalida Popal. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Khalida Popal

“In Afghanistan, women football players are called prostitutes. Football is seen as a male game...”SDG 5: Gender equality

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Durdana, a once landless woman farmer, proudly shows off her land and Land Tenancy Agreement in Dadu District, Sindh Province, Pakistan. Photo: UN Women/Faria Salman

Khateeja Mallah

“Farming is all that I know, my only source of income. I first began working in the fields with my father when I was 10 years old and after that with my husband, to whom I was married off when I was 13...” SDG 2: Zero hunger

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Souhad Azennoud

Souhad Azennoud

“In our mountain village here in Kissane, in Morocco's Taounate Province, we can see the impact of climate change. People notice it and say, ‘Before, the wheat was higher and didn't need to be sprayed’...”SDG 15: Life on land

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Nahimana Fainesi

“This is my second time living in communal camps, second time running away from civil war to protect myself...” SDG 2: Zero hunger

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Zaad Al-khair. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

Zaad Al-khair

“The day I fled to Jordan there was heavy shelling in my neighbourhood. There were bombings close to our house. It was very dangerous. We had no choice but to run away...” SDG 1: No poverty

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Sahar el-Salab, arguably the most successful woman in the Egyptian banking sector, is currently CEO of a family business and a member of the Arab Network for the Economic Empowerment of Women (Khadija)—a regional network of representatives of social, public and private sectors, supported by UN Women and the European Union. Photo: UN Women/Amna Magdy

Sahar el-Salab

“I always said I needed the day off because I was the one who is sick, not my son or daughter. For that was not acceptable...” SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

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Eisha Mohammed, 41, is a solar engineer working and living in Mjimwema, a remote village in southern Tanzania. Photo: UN Women/Stephanie Raison

Eisha Mohammed

“I used to struggle to work in the fields but now I proceed to my office, the community solar workshop...” SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

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Anisa Marama, a market vendor in Fiji. Photo: UN Women/Eva Schroeder

Anisa Marama

“I have been selling at Suva Market for 60 years. I like it because it keeps me active; I’d rather be here than stuck at home and it’s better that I earn my own money than rely on my children...” SDG 1: No poverty

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Cristina Francisco Reyes.

Cristina Francisco Reyes

“One of the main obstacles I’ve faced, is that women with disabilities are stigmatized and labelled as ‘ill’, as being incapable of developing leadership, incapable of having an impact and influence on social changes, equity, our equality and our political participation...” SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

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Surayo Mirzoyeva, 41, took part in a self-help group supported by the UN Women project “Empowering abandoned wives of migrant workers in Tajikistan,” which has provided more than 3,000 villagers in Fathobod, Tajikistan, with clean drinking water. Photo: UN Women/Humairo Bakhtiyar

Surayo Mirzoyeva

“Many people in our region have lived without clean drinking water for many years and had very little hope that things would ever change...” SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

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Lucy Nduati is a 34-year-old single mother and a police officer from Nairobi. Photo courtesy of Lucy Nduati

Lucy Nduati

“Where I come from, police officers are some of the most highly respected people, and becoming one brought pride to my family. However, being a female police officer in Kenya can pose challenges...” SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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