Last week I went on a short, half-day hike in the hills surrounding Kathmandu with a group of quite amazing women.
Seven Summits Women
This blog entry provides a story involving neither uterine prolapse nor child marriage, but it is an entry about something critical to combating both – women’s empowerment. The story of the group of women with whom I had the opportunity to hike is a breath of fresh air in the midst of a fellowship journey filled with heartbreaking tales – truly my peaceful nature hike a world away from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu city.
Through spending the morning with some of the women who make up the Seven Summits Women climbing team, I learned a bit about them and how they came together – inspirational stories, a portion of which I would like to share with you. The Seven Summits Women is a group of female climbers who first met when they formed a team in 2007 to summit Mt. Everest, the tallest peak in Asia and the world.
In May 2008, this group of women became the most successful women’s expedition to ever summit Mt. Everest, with each of the ten team members completing the climb to the summit – a feat from which each team member (rightfully!) derives immense pride. More important to the team members than individual success though is the entity they have become together – an entity greater than the sum of its already incredible parts.
Now a team of seven, the group decided to stay together to summit each of the tallest mountains of the other six continents, and have since succeeded in summiting Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia and Mt. Elbrus in Europe, both in 2010. The women now have their sights set on Mt. Kilimanjaro, the rooftop of Africa, which they plan to climb in early 2013.
Each of the team members of Seven Summits Women has a unique story, often involving social and economic hardship. One of the members ran away from her family at the age of 14 to start her own life in Kathmandu on the eve of her arranged marriage ceremony.
These women have channeled incredible physical, emotional, and mental strength to make their dreams a reality. They never give up on themselves or each other or the entity that is Seven Summits Women. But what is most inspiring to me about these women is not their climbing feats alone, but how the sport has become a catalyst of empowerment in all aspects of their lives – and a way for them to empower others.
Seven Summits Women regularly visits schools all over Nepal in order to inspire girls and young women to accomplish their goals – whatever they may be – offering their own stories as examples of overcoming obstacles and achieving success. In addition, the team will be providing an opportunity for local women to join them in their climb of Mt. Kilimajaro next year, and after the climb the team members have plans to visit schools in the Tanzanian mountain region to inspire students to believe in education.
The Seven Summits Women’s website states “[e]ducation, empowerment and environment are three keys we believe in. With education we mean real learning, empowerment means ability to stand for oneself in every way and we understand environment as not just the nature around us, it’s who we are.”
To me, they are the epitome of empowered women, something I believe Nepal desperately needs more of.
Hiking Jamacho, Kathmandu
After the Everest climb, the women spoke with an information officer for record-keeping purposes, and when they told him that none of the team members faced any illness or medical problem during the climb beyond vomiting and headaches, the officer responded, “Everest must have been smiling when you were climbing”. I think so too.
To learn more about Seven Summits Women, to support these women in their endeavor to summit each of the tallest peaks of the seven continents, or to utilize their guide services to trek in Nepal, visit their website, like their facebook page, or feel free to contact me!
Posted By Heather Webb
Posted Oct 9th, 2012