ISLAMABAD: American mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien on Saturday said she once thought of Pakistani women as oppressed but was delighted to see that they are strong, determined and capable of achieving great feats.

Ms O’Brien was speaking at a sports diplomacy event titled ‘Empowering Women through Sports’. The event highlighted the importance of sports and active lifestyles in advancing the status of women in society.

Vanessa O’Brien, is an American mountaineer who recently attempted to summit Pakistan’s K2 and Broad Peak mountains together during the 2015 summer climbing season. Among women, she already holds the world record for climbing the Seven Summits in the shortest period of time.

While no mountaineer was successful in climbing either peak this season, Vanessa O’Brien was headlining this event to share her knowledge of outdoor sports and send a positive message about women’s empowerment.

After few brief words on the significance of physical activity and sharing some tips on mountaineering, Ms O’Brien gave young girls a lesson in rock climbing at the Ibex Club at the Lake View Park.

For many in the audience, it was their first time on the wall. Wearing harnesses and gripping the plastic holds on the wall, many found themselves exhausted after a few minutes of climbing.

Football player Asmara Kiani had never climbed before and found this new sport thrilling and more challenging than football.

Dina Waheed, a 9th grade student who also plays football, found herself inspired by the young American sportswoman.

“She told us to never give up and this is the most important advice we take away from O’Brien’s speech,” Dina said.

Elaborating on the importance of the event, one of the organisers Shahrukh Khan said, “It is important to get girls outdoors and let them engage in physical activities. It is good for both physical and mental wellbeing”.

In addition to competing in a wall climbing relay, participants also learnt and practiced archery skills at the Club.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2015

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