Millions of women around the world do not have the privilege of choice about their education, who they marry or their career. Nepal has a large population of women that feel they do not have these choices.
IYH has no intention of trying to change a culture. We do however want to work with Nepalese charities and projects that support a change for the better from the perspective of those who belong to that culture and live there.
We are lucky enough to know the right people who are pioneering, inspiring and role modelling how to respect the traditions of Nepal while delivering more opportunities and choice for women.
Nepal is one of the worlds top adventure industry destinations. The unique combination of geography, culture and heritage make it romantic as well as aspirational to a wide demographic of adventure seeking tourists. There is something for everybody. The family friendly, novice trekker, kayaker, mountaineer to fully supported expeditions to the unknown. Tourism is a resource of relatively easily generated national income as it can be promoted and developed with minimum investment. Additionally, it is the main contributor of foreign income earnings and is a driving force of economic development in Nepal. Furthermore, it increases the employment in many tourism related sectors such as accommodation and transportation. It offers job opportunities in adventure destinations located among isolated, subsistence populations and improves the living standard of residents. With adventure travel being fundamental for Nepal’s economic development, the Nepalese government upgraded its adventure travel objectives recently.
Why is this relevant? We want to encourage and support women to join the industry as guides. There is a real need for more trained, skilled guides in Nepal and women need to be part of that. Due to cultural and financial obstacles, many women will never even dream of this as an option. Thanks to ground breaking women pioneering this career, we are hoping to be a small part of the change that they want and need.
The picture below is of the incredible Seven Summit Women's Team. Their story is legendary.
IYH are happy to announce a pilot scheme for sponsoring 2 women on a 3 year outdoor leadership program. We have shared details below of our partners in this venture:
ROYAL BEACH CAMP: Provider of the 3 year course
SUMMIT EXPEDITIONS: Sponsor of the 3 year course for 2 women
LIFE TREK: A charity supporting women entering the outdoor industry and who will help to find the right candidates for this course.
GLOBAL INCLUSIVE ADVENTURE ORGANISATION / GIA: A charity that supports women with trauma after being victims of trafficking. They will also be part of selecting the right candidates for this course from their group.
Ram was one of the best kayaking a rafting guides ever to come from Nepal. That possibly makes him one of the best in the world! Pauline and Ram worked together at Equator Expeditions for 5 years in the 90’s so there is a big history of respect and trust.
Sue and Pauline visited Ram at Royal Beach Camp where he explained his program for training westerners to become guides in the Himalayas. He also explained how he ran a Nepalese program alongside this to ensure he was helping young Nepalese people into an industry that has given him so much. His philanthropy was inspiring and from that moment the seed was sown. IYH wanted to support his endeavours but we are adding another necessary element by sponsoring women from difficult backgrounds.
Ram has had his own difficult journey and is not ashamed to share his vulnerabilities. He understands that the 4 women who are chosen to join this 3 year program ( 2 of whom will be sponsored by IYH) will need more than skills training. This will be a journey to help some of them heal from trauma, for others it will hard to justify this choice to their family. This journey is not to be underestimated.
They will be training alongside young men too so we are not starting in a women's only project. That will not be the norm. The norm will be to have men and women in this industry so let’s start the training in the same way.
The table below is an outline of the three year course. You will see it is made of building blocks leading to full qualifications and actual guiding experience.
Annu Shrestha is the founder of the project LifeTrek and was born and raised in Nepal. She has been working for 15 years in outdoor adventures as a rafting and trekking guide. The beginning of her journey was when she met Ram. She has first hand experience of what he can do to help more women like her. By choosing this profession, many doors have been opened - which would never be possible otherwise. Those long journeys with many obstacles taught her to live life in the way she wanted. Now, she is committed to making a change for other young women in Nepal and changing people's minds to look more positively at women in society.
Annu has already run a 2 month outdoor introduction course for women who need her. She will be an important part of recruiting and mentoring the women on this course.
The pictures below show the two sides of Annu, sophisticated lady and action woman…..not mutually exclusive.
‘Seven Summits Women Team’ made of 10 women from Nepal, came together to scale Mt Everest a decade ago. Despite various socio-economic challenges and widespread ridicule for being ‘an over-ambitious female team’, ‘First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition,’ become the most successful female mountaineering mission to climb Mt Everest. All ten members of the team made it to the top in May 2008.
Following the Everest expedition, the team members founded ‘Global Inclusive Adventure Organization’ ("GIA"), a non-profit, non-governmental organization registered with the government of Nepal
In the year 2010, GIA ventured on the flagship mission of the ‘Seven Summits Women Team’. In 2014, the team became the first female group in the world to climb the highest peak on each continent.
Maya Gurung and her team mate Shailee Basnet have helped drive many projects using their status to get others involved. One of those projects is the Survivor Training Program.
To be trafficked, at young age, is a deep trauma. In addition, even upon return survivors in Nepal face great challenges finding well-paying dignified jobs with potential for growth. Shailee and Maya came across a group of young female survivors in 2014. US-based non-profit Courageous Girls was on a mission to providing healing to survivors through a trek to the Everest Base Camp. GIA initially signed up to train the ladies for the trek. However, they soon realized that the trainees had real potential and an urgent need for change. The survivor training was the result.
GIA provides long-term based outdoor training, language classes, self-defence skills, leadership hikes, high-altitude adventure treks, support for continuation of academic education and scholarship for outdoor certification programs. After long-term training and once deemed fit for job, GIA provides job-placement. Three of their trainees have earned their trekking guide licence. GIA is currently developing plans for the next training session and fundraising for this. This is where the IYH sponsorship comes in.
As a team, we hope to find 4 women who will really benefit from this 3 year course. If this works we will hopefully continue to support more women and each one will inspire and act as a role model to others from their villages and towns.
We hope this will be a building block for many more women to have more choice.
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