The Everest Women of Nepal

08 Mar 2009

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Last year, ten Nepali women took part in the first successful all-female Everest Expedition, scaling the world’s highest peak (29,000 feet, or more than 8,800 meters).  They overcame many challenges that climbers often face, including avalanches, extremely cold temperatures, sudden storms and low oxygen levels.

Now, seven of them are part of another mission: touring schools and making video presentations about their expedition. The goal is to teach and inspire children, with topics of gender equality, women’s empowerment and global warming among the top priorities.

The team talks about their personal experiences when visiting schools. They come from diverse backgrounds and castes but worked together as a team. Among the young “Everest Women” are a journalist, a fashion model and a woman who supported her family by washing clothes for other people.

"We want to show kids that success comes with hard work and education; that neither age, religion, caste or the region you are from matters if you really want to achieve something," says 24-year-old team member Shailee Basnett, who is a journalist with Nepal’s Himalmedia.

Missions like the first successful all-female Mount Everest Expedition have brought attention to gender equality and the Millennium Development Goals.
© UNDP
The Everest Women are also very concerned about the impacts of global warming on the Himalayas – one of Nepal’s greatest treasures – and on the Nepali people’s livelihoods. Their school programmes include a presentation on global warming and its impact on Everest, which inevitably leads to a discussion on its impact on the whole country.

“I have been in the mountaineering sector since 2003 and every year I have been seeing that there is a higher snow-melting ratio,” said Susmita Maskey, the expedition coordinator.  “In the winter of 2007, there was no snowfall whatsoever, and on our expedition we saw rocky peaks instead of snow capped mountains. At this melting rate, there is a high possibility of a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF). This is scary.”

Thanks to the efforts of this team, Mount Everest is now used to bring attention to gender equality and the Millennium Development Goals, particularly goals 3 and 7, that focus on gender and environment. The group received support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Denmark.

For more information, please contact:

Sangita Khadka at sangita.khadka@undp.org or mob: +9779815523200
Surekha Subarwal at Surekha.subarwal@undp.org or mob:+919810153924

For more on UNDP's work in Nepal, go to www.undp.org.np.