PIONEERING ALL-FEMALE EXPEDITION TO SRI LANKA RAISES VALUABLE FUNDS FOR WOMEN IMPACTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE
For Immediate Release
In April 2023, a self-funded team of 12 women, under the banner of HER Planet Earth - a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore dedicated to gender equality and environmental conservation - trekked across the Knuckles Mountain Range of Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The team successfully covered a total distance of 150km (100km on foot in 4 days and 50km on bike), and summited Gombaniya (1,906m), the highest peak of the range, as the first all-female team to ever attempt this feat.
The expedition raised valuable funds (a team total of $45,000 SGD to date) for the economic empowerment of women affected by climate change in Sri Lanka. Ninety-six per cent of disasters in Sri Lanka are caused by extreme weather events, such as flooding, landslides, extreme winds, and drought. And it was ranked the fourth most climate change prone country according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2018. Consequently, it necessitates stronger disaster preparedness and proper interventions to build resistance in response to climate change. Roughly 50 percent of its 22 million citizens live in low-lying coastal areas in the west, south, and south-west of the island, and are at risk of future sea level rise.
The Team’s Journey
On the first day of the expedition the team met up with Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, first Sri Lankan person to summit Everest, who is a strong advocate for female empowerment in her country. They then drove to Elkadua Mountain Range where they spent the night, and the following day, hiked 15km to Madulkelle through the tea plantations.
After a hearty breakfast the next morning, the women set out for their longest day, 35km to the Knuckles Mountain Base Camp, where they arrived at dusk and spent their first night in tents. The following morning at dawn after a long and arduous climb across lush tropical jungle teeming with exotic wildlife and the occasional band of leeches, they successfully summited Gombaniya and returned back to base camp that night, having covered an additional 27km. The descent was slippery as it started to rain mid-way down - and was perhaps even harder than the ascent. The team celebrated with a beautiful bonfire at the base camp that night.
The following day, the team trekked to Gomara completing their 100km journey and arrived at the stunning Santani Resort, a former tea estate surrounded by paddy fields, to enjoy a well-deserved rest. The next day after a visit to the Forest Healing Project, an NGO focused on protecting and restoring forests in Sri Lanka, for a tree planting initiative, the team covered 50km on bikes, riding across the Hanthana Mountain Range, an environmental protection area adjacent to the Knuckles Mountain Range near Kandy, the largest city in central Sri Lanka.
UN Women Sri Lanka
One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to UN Women Sri Lanka’s office, to meet the team on the ground. Part of the funds raised by this HER Planet Earth expedition will go to support research at the local level, which will help better understand the linkages between women’s empowerment and climate change.
Speaking on the issue, Prashani Dias, Head of Office at UN Women Sri Lanka said, "The effects of climate change are not uniform and they affect people differently. That is why it is important to look at climate change through the lens of intersectional feminism. This will help understand how different groups of people - including women with disabilities, migrant women and those living in rural, and disaster-prone areas - are affected, which will in turn help develop tailored solutions to improve their livelihoods, health, safety and security."
HER Planet Earth
Now in its seventh year of operation, HER Planet Earth raises awareness and funds via expeditionary travel across the globe. Past expeditions have taken all-female teams to remote islands in Asia, to the highlands of Africa, to Mountains in the heart of Antarctica, across the Arctic Circle Trail of Greenland and to the largest caves in the world in Vietnam. Pioneering in nature, the group’s initiatives support organisations that champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women affected by climate change.
HER Planet Earth’s objective is to inspire people to leave their comfort zones, families, and homes for a certain period, while pushing their limits in an effort to rally support for a worthy cause. At the core of its culture is a commitment to empower underprivileged women, a passion for adventure and a deep love and respect for nature. HER Planet Earth seeks to take participants on pioneering expeditions around the world, so that they can make new discoveries, reconnect with nature, but most importantly, contribute to building the climate resiliency of vulnerable women.
During the expedition, the women were joined by a reporter and filmmaker from TV1 Sri Lanka’s largest TV group, who documented the team’s journey via a soon-to-be-released short film. The team hopes this documentary will help bring international attention to the need for societies, governments, and corporations to get involved and help support climate action and women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka and beyond.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s page: here