Accelerating Climate Change Calls for More International Disaster Relief Cooperation - HER Planet Earth Joins Forces with UK-Based RE:ACT
For Immediate Release
Singapore, 13 October 2020, on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction - The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said last December 2019 at the opening the U.N.’s annual climate conference in Madrid, “Climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent, deadlier, more destructive, with growing human and financial costs.”
In the past year alone, we have seen more devastating fires in California, persistent drought in the Southwest, record flooding in Europe and Africa, a heat wave, of all things, in Greenland, seas warming and rising faster, putting more cities at risk of tidal flooding or worse. Indeed, climate change and its effects are accelerating, with climate related disasters piling up, season after season.
“Things are getting worse,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, which also concluded in its most recent global climate report that, “It is more urgent than ever to proceed with mitigation.”
In view of the accelerating climate crisis, Singapore-based advocacy group HER Planet Earth has announced its partnership with UK-based charity RE:ACT to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and to promote campaigns that support vulnerable populations affected by natural disasters.
HER Planet Earth organises all-female expeditions in extreme locations around the world, raising funds for programmes supporting women’s equality and environmental causes in disaster-stricken developing countries. The non-profit specifically supports women affected by climate disasters who are often the worst affected and least protected. Most natural disasters occur in rural regions and the majority of agricultural workers in developing countries are women, making them particularly vulnerable.
Since launching in 2017, HER Planet Earth has raised awareness and funds - close to half a million dollars - in support of organisations and charities such as Conservation International, Zero Waste SG, WWF and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (known as UN Women).
Disaster response charity RE:ACT combines a military-style approach with humanitarian action to aid the hardest to reach and most vulnerable people. It specialises in reaching remote and isolated communities in the immediate aftermath of disaster, enabling aid to get where it’s most needed, and often operates in regions under threat of repeat and prolonged natural disasters, as a result of climate change.
The partnership will enable both charitable organisations to highlight the growing issue of climate change and the effects of natural disasters on poverty and the ability of communities to recover and build resilience, focusing particularly on women where they are the most vulnerable and in need.
Ben Lampard, Director of Humanitarian Operations RE:ACT, said, “RE:ACT is delighted to announce this partnership with HER Planet Earth. Our mission is to provide direct humanitarian action for the hardest to reach and most vulnerable, so over the years we’ve responded to some of the worst affected communities and witnessed the disproportionate effect of disasters on the poorest, particularly women, so this is a cause very close to our hearts. By joining forces, we hope to stir people into action on the important issues of women’s equality and climate change. We look forward to working closely with HER Planet Earth for many years to come and hope that more people unite behind this incredible cause.”
Christine Amour-Levar, Founder & CEO of HER Planet Earth, shared, “We are thrilled to partner with RE:ACT and shine a light on the importance of international cooperation to support vulnerable populations, especially when climate disasters strike. We particularly want to draw attention to the fact that women are amongst the most affected by climate change, partly because they make up the larger share of the agricultural workforce and tend to have access to fewer income-earning jobs. Our hope is that societies, governments and more corporations will get involved and help support disaster relief efforts.“
FIND OUT MORE
RE:ACT is a UK-based disaster response charity that repurposes the hard skills and experience of military veterans and combines a military approach with humanitarian action to aid the hardest to reach and most vulnerable people affected by disaster. https://www.re-act.org.uk
About HER Planet Earth
HER Planet Earth is non-profit organisation headquarter in Singapore that aims to empower women as a way to mitigate climate change. One of its core objectives is to inspire more women to become policymakers and agents of change in order to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet. HER Planet Earth organises challenging, often pioneering, and self-funded expeditions around the world to increase awareness on environmental degradation and raise funds for programmes that empower and educate underprivileged women affected by climate change - ultimately helping them build climate change resilience. www.HERplanetearth.com
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By Muriel Bauer
An Endless Field of Broccoli
This is the first thought that enters my mind as I am flying in a tiny plane over the Ecuadorian part of the Amazonian rainforest. I am on a two-week trip with a charity called the Pachamama Alliance, and will be visiting the Sapara and Achuar indigenous communities.
Our wonderful group made up of about 20 people from all over the world is united by a common goal: the preservation of this pristine natural wonder. As days unfold, we succumb to the beauty and mystery of the rainforest and its incredible inhabitants.
I have been on many amazing adventures before but this one is different: it is a journey into a deeper relationship with myself and our planet- the Pachamama.
After a few days in the forest, my senses are in turmoil: I start to see, hear, smell and feel more vividly. As I spend time meditating and soaking up the environment, visions and dreams show their faces and my consciousness expands. Stripped bare from all links with my modern life, I turn inwards and have access to deeper layers of my inner self. This feels raw and exhilarating.
Learning About the Achuar Cosmovision
Here, dream interpretation is an integral part of life, in the same way that we might use a GPS to find directions. Each morning at dawn, dreams are deciphered for their valuable insights which guide the life of the dreamers and their family members. Everything that surrounds us (trees, animals, the water, the earth, the sun) is Spirit and as such, demands the deepest respect. In every community, we are welcomed by powerful shamans who share their ancient wisdom, provide spiritual cleansing and invoke the powerful spirit of the forest (Arutam in Achuar language). Listening to local men and women, we are struck by an almost visceral realization that we all belong to this interconnected web of life.
The Largest Pharmacy in the World
Following the Sapara Chief Manari through the dense forest is a lesson in ecology, bio-diversity, and humility. This calm and grounded man can describe the medicinal virtue and function of each tree, plant, bark and leaf in the forest. Some leaves can apparently cure Hepatitis A while others can help with fertility or digestive problems. Listening avidly to his teachings, we understand we are standing in the largest and most potent pharmacy of the planet and feel the urgency of conserving this magical place.
Trekking for hours through the forest is indeed magical; there is no path, and we bless our dedicated guides without whom we would be completely lost. They navigate primarily through smell rather than sight and can spot any insect or danger very fast. Even though I am in the thick of an immense rainforest, I feel an unexpected sense of belonging and security, even when we spot the fresh marks of a (nearly extinct) jaguar!
Breathing the incredible pure air, bathing in pristine water, listening to the myriads of birds at dawn is like a long-lost luxury. For me, this trip has been transformative on every level. As an eco-therapist, I have deepened my conviction that healing our soul and healing our planet are deeply interconnected. I feel immensely grateful for the incredible warmth of all the people I met on this journey, and remain in awe of the majestic beauty of the rainforest. The spiritual insights I picked up will stay with me as I come back to my urban life with a renewed sense of purpose and responsibility.
Why this trip is Important
This trip is a heartfelt plea to protect the Amazon forest, and by extension, the areas of our planet that are still pristine and undamaged. The Indigenous Tribes live in complete symbiosis with the fauna and flora. If this fragile ecosystem is ever even slightly disturbed, their very survival will be compromised.
The major threats are oil extraction, logging, mineral extraction and, road construction. When we arrived, the clan leaders were alarmed as they had heard rumours of a project to build a road through the Achuar territory. They know this would bring disease, pollution, and the ultimate destruction of the forest and their culture.
The fight seems enormous yet the message is simple: let’s just not touch this part of the world. The aim is to create a massive protected area, free from oil mining, logging, mineral extraction and touristic development.
What is the Pachamama Alliance?
Since 1995, the Pachamama Alliance has worked with indigenous partners in Ecuador to stand for the rights of indigenous people and Nature, safeguarding the rainforest and working in the industrialized world to shift the culture of overconsumption that threatens their Amazonian home. The Pachamama Alliance has launched a large campaign calling for the protection of the Sacred Headwaters (the rainforest part of Ecuador and northern Peru) and a complete ban on all industrial-level extractive activities.
A century ago, up to 12 million of the world's heaviest land mammals roamed the earth. Today, there are only about 500,000 elephants left. Despite a 1990 ban on international trade in ivory, and even if the demand for animal tusks has decreased over the last few years, these majestic animals are alarmingly close to extinction.
In October 2019, our ‘HER Planet Earth’ all-female team, had the great privilege of trekking 100km with Samburu warriors in the Karisia Hills of Northern Kenya. The Samburu are nomadic pastoralists who have lived harmoniously with nature in this region of Kenya for centuries. Following patterns of rainfall in search of fresh pasture and water for their cattle, camels, goats and sheep, they have developed a special relationship with the environment and this has created a biocultural landscape that promotes both Samburu culture and biodiversity.
During our week-long sojourn in this remote part of Kenya, we witnessed incredibly stunning landscapes and ever-changing sceneries, from dry deserts and rocky volcanic terrain, to lush green forests and meadows as we climbed higher in altitude to 2,550 metres above sea level. Travelling with a full safari train, made up of twenty-eight transport camels loaded with our tents and supplies, our team walked side by side with an armed Samburu escort composed of proud local warriors, trackers and rangers.
Each day we covered about 18 to 20 kilometres on foot, leaving camp just as dawn broke, and arriving at our next campsite by early afternoon. Our Samburu guides kept us safe throughout, scanning the path ahead meticulously, constantly on the lookout for signs of wildlife or other visitors. They were attentive to every detail and looked after us with sincere and generous hospitality, which made all the difference.
The objective of our trek was to increase awareness of the impact of climate change in this region and raise valuable funds for Conservation International and their programmes aimed at building the resiliency of the local people of Northern Kenya, and women in particular, who are the hardest hit by climate change. In Kenya, women are the natural custodians of the environment and the first to be affected by environmental degradation. This is because they are the ones who walk for hours looking for water, who fetch firewood and who provide food for their families. Our support, which culminated in a team total of S$145,000, was aimed at creating more livelihood opportunities for women in this area - focused on wildlife conservation.
Elephants and Samburu Culture
As we journeyed with the Samburu through their territory, we learnt a great deal about their love of nature and their deep respect for elephants especially. These beautiful mammals have influenced Samburu tribal culture since the dawn of time. Elephants create paths to water and break branches that can be used for firewood, two functions that benefit the Samburu people’s survival.
As we soaked up the beauty of the region during our long days of walking, we came to hear about a local legend that tells the tale of elephants who once lived in homes and worked with the Samburu women, demonstrating that elephants are ancient relatives and therefore deserve love and respect.
The Impact of Climate Change
We soon also realised however, that the Samburu way of life is being severely threatened by the impact of climate change. Droughts are leading to conflicts, human and livestock displacement, animal diseases, and food insecurity. These nomadic herders frequently have to dig deep holes to find water for both themselves and their livestock. They call them ‘Singing Wells’ because they sing to their livestock as they dig, and the cows recognise their family’s song and come down to their well to drink. The difference between each family's song is usually clear but can be very subtle. At night, thirsty elephants seek out these wells. The adults, with great long trunks, have little problem reaching for the water, but the younger, inexperienced elephants can tumble in. If the animals can't be pulled out, the elephants are forced to abandon their young.
Over twenty of these abandoned elephants now live at the nearby Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, the first community owned elephant reserve in Kenya. At Reteti, the baby elephants are being devotedly taken care of and bottle fed, until they are big enough and old enough to be re-introduced into the wild. It's a unique form of conservation, where the local Samburu people collectively own and manage the 3,400-acre property.
As the largest of all land mammals, African elephants play an important role in balancing natural ecosystems and part of our team’s fundraising went to support this elephant sanctuary to help them grow and develop the programme, so as to employ more local women to care for these beautiful creatures.
Female Empowerment & Eco-Livelihoods
Additionally, our team’s efforts were focused on giving a voice and providing a platform for the development of sustainable enterprises and family livelihoods. The ripple effect will extend to education, health, family income and even security, peace and stability. Gender imbalance is a major factor obstructing sustainable development in Africa and poverty is a key element undermining a girl’s right to education; a cycle that reinforces a large gender gap. Many aspects combine to truncate a girl’s education and a young women’s career, limiting the full realisation of her productive capacities. On the other hand, educating a girl means that as a woman, she is then empowered and more likely to participate in development efforts and in political and economic decision-making.
One of our beneficiaries is a Conservation International Fellow, Rufo Halakhe, whom we met during our visit. Rufo will use her fellowship to explore how women are affected by tribal clashes involving communities in her region and how women can be champions of peace through their existing cultural structures. Another very special lady we met during our trip is Josephine Ikuru, a community leader and the first female peace coordinator for the Northern Rangeland Trust, a partner of Conservation International. She’s been a champion for women’s rights in Northern Kenya since her teen years, defying gender norms to attend local meetings traditionally dominated by men. Josephine gained a passion for conservation through her efforts to reform poachers, working to end both the devastation of her beloved wildlife and the poverty that has given rise to it. By age 22, she was elected the Chairperson of the Nakuprat-Gotu Conservancy, bringing together rival tribes to curb poaching and conserve the native wildlife. Throughout her career, Josephine has successfully reformed dozens of poachers, helping convert several of them into conservationists and peace ambassadors.
Our team spent a day with the Northern Rangelands Trust to better understand how our funds could help further develop their mobile anti-poaching unit. This group is comprised of highly trained men and women from the Kenyan National Police Reservists, who are tasked to protect the whole area. The rangers are extremely skilled in several disciplines, including physical training, first aid, weapons handling, navigation, legal briefing, and also work with a K9 task force, making them a unique influence for stability and safety in the community.
Their efforts since their inception have contributed significantly to a reduction in the illegal killing of several endangered species in this part of Kenya. The local elephant population has bounced back as a result, from an all-time low, since the introduction of this team. The success and continuation of this ranger unit provides an example to other communities of what can be achieved with the right resources and training.
Overall, our time in Kenya was a truly enriching and insightful experience. This magnificent country of epic landforms stirred in us deep longing for the rest of the African continent. And when you depart, as the plane lifts, you feel that more than leaving a continent, you are leaving a state of mind. Our hearts are full from the staggering beauty of the local people whom we came to know during our journey. They brought soul and colour to the earth. We will never forget the vast multicoloured grasslands peppered with immense herds of wildlife, which we traversed.
As with many of our expeditions, it’s not so much about the destination but more about the journey itself. The conservation mission is difficult and urgent, and the odds are seemingly stacked against us. The path is rocky, steep, hard and dusty. At times we feel overwhelmed, it’s difficult to take just one more step forward, but then we see our teammates, who are just as thirsty and tired as us, and we know that we are not alone in this journey. Together, we lift each other up and it inspires us to keep going, because this pursuit is too important. We must never give up.
By Guest Contributor
Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist, author and conservationist. She is recognised as one of the biggest and most vital conservationists in history as well as the mother of modern environmentalism. Her campaign revolved around challenging the use of man-made chemicals and her research eventually led to the complete ban of DDT and other pesticides nationwide.
She was a naturalist and advocated for the use of organic methods by agricultural scientists. According to the National Women's Museum, the impact of the environmental movement that she embarked on led to the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Rachel Louise Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She was raised on a 65-acre farm and spent her childhood years exploring the fields, falling in love with nature and writing about it.
When she was 10, her first work was published in a children's magazine which was quite a feat. Growing up in such a natural environment instilled a major knowledge of nature and wildlife in her which then served as a drive that spurred her on to make all the moves that she made in defence of mother nature.
According to Carson, "In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is the story of the earth." She initially decided to pursue a career in writing, however, while still in college, she changed her major from English to Biology. In 1929, she graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College).
She then proceeded to John Hopkins University, which was a very rare occurrence for women at the time, where she did some graduate work. She had her fellowship at the U.S. Marine Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and taught at the Johns Hopkins summer school during the course of her post-graduate studies.
She later went on to teach at the University of Maryland for five years.
Her Works and Contribution to Science
After spending five years at the University of Maryland, Rachel Louise Carson got employment at the Bureau of Fisheries in 1935. One of her major responsibilities at first was to create a series of seven-minute radio programs devoted to talking about marine life. They were tagged "Romance Under the Waters."
By 1936, she was regarded as one of the only two women who had employment at a professional level with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bureau and this was stated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service itself.
She worked here until 1952 and before she left, she had already been promoted to editor-in-chief of the service's publications. She also contributed her quota during World War II by studying and investigating undersea sounds to help the Navy in their quest for the detection of submarines.
While doing her work for the government, she was responsible for writing a significant number of articles which were published by the Baltimore Sun. As a step in the right direction, she wrote her first book titled "Under the Sea-Wind," which was published in 1941. The theme was a scientific study on marine life but it was written in simple language so that it could be easily understood.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, she published her second book, "The Sea Around Us," in 1951 and it became an instant bestseller and brought her some fortune. Furthermore, remained on The New York Times' best-seller list for 81 weeks and won a National Book Award. It was also translated into 32 different languages.
In 1955, she published her third book, "Under the Sea."
Prior to this, Carson had spent the 1950s researching the effects of pesticides on the food chain across the United States and Europe. She was assisted by Clarence Cottam, a former employee of Fish and Wildlife Service as well as Shirley Briggs, who was an editor of an Audubon Naturalist Society magazine called Atlantic Naturalist at the time.
It was this work that served as the basis of her book "Silent Spring" which was published by The New Yorker in 1962 as a serial and was said to have taken her a total of four years to write by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The book mainly focused on the negative, destructive effects of pesticides with a focus on the effects of DDT. Major takeaways from this book include the question she asked about whether humans had the right to control nature as well as the concept of Earth being able to only sustain pollution levels for a particular amount of time.
Here's an excerpt from the book, "Silent Spring":
"One of the most significant features of DDT and related chemicals is the way they are passed on from one organism to another through all the links of the food chain. Fields of alfalfa, say, are dusted with DDT; meal is later prepared from the alfalfa and fed to hens; the hens lay eggs that contain DDT. Or the hay, containing residues of from seven to eight parts per million, may be fed to cows. The DDT will turn up in the milk in the amount of about three parts per million, but in butter made from this milk, the concentration may run to sixty-five parts per million. During the process of transfer, what started out as a very small amount of DDT may end as a heavy concentration. The poison may be passed on from mother to offspring. The presence of insecticide residues in human milk has been established by the Food and Drug Administration scientists."
She faced opposition from chemical companies that tried to discredit her and claimed she was a communist or simply hysterical. However, her message spread and she went on to earn a presidential commission for the book.
Rachel Louise Carson died in 1964 after a prolonged battle with breast cancer but would forever be regarded as a hero.
For Immediate Release
Singapore, 4 December 2019 - In March 2020, a self-funded team of 10 women coming together under the banner of ‘HER Planet Earth’ - a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore dedicated to gender equality and environmental conservation - will attempt the winter crossing of Greenland's Arctic Circle Trail on fatbikes. This is a feat that has never been accomplished by an all-female team before. The objective of this 11-day, 200km pioneering expedition is to raise awareness and funds (a team total of S$50,000) for underprivileged women affected by climate change in the Asia region.
In the past decade, climate related disasters have led to the loss of 700 thousand lives, 1.7 billion people affected and economic losses of USD 1.4 trillion. These effects disproportionately affect women and girls: multiple discriminations mean that women are more vulnerable in crises and post disasters situations. In view of this, the team wants to raise funds for UN Women UK, and their programmes supporting the economic empowerment of women in rural areas of Asia, more specifically, in countries most affected by climate change, such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Nepal.
“Imagine a world where all people have equal rights and opportunities. Women and girls are not afraid of walking home late at night, and men and boys are not trapped in oppressive masculinities. A world in which women have equal say in decisions that affect their lives, their bodies, their policies, and their environment, from villages to cities. In this world, gender equality is the norm. Only with the commitment of activist organisations like HER Planet Earth and its fantastic volunteers can we begin to make this a reality. Now is the time to change the way the world works for women,” said Simon Gallow, Development Director at UN Women UK.
Recent HER Planet Earth expeditions have taken all-female teams to remote islands in the Philippines, to new peaks in Antarctica, to the largest caves in the world in Vietnam and to mountains in Iceland and North Kenya. For this next challenge, the team has chosen Greenland, the world’s largest island and an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, because of growing concerns related to global warming and rising sea levels.
The glaciers of Greenland are contributing to a rise in the global sea level faster than was previously believed and the women want to see for themselves the extent of the ice melt, while also meeting with climate scientists and local Inuit people to better understand the gravity of the situation. The big concern for the future is if the giant ice sheets in Greenland continue to melt, this would raise global sea levels by as much as 7m. While all coastal cities will be affected by rising sea levels, Asian cities will be hit much harder than others given their population, economic activity and landmass. Many of the processes that control sea-level rise are amplified in Asia. As a result, about four out of every five people impacted by sea-level rise by 2050 will live in East or South-east Asia.
The Team’s Journey
The expedition will start in Copenhagen with an expedition briefing. The team will then fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. With snowmobile support to transfer bags, the team will then spend six days pedalling from the Russell Glacier to the coast through a variety of terrain including steep hills, rocky outcrops and vast frozen plains and lakes. The daily temperatures are expected to be between -10 and -30 degrees Celsius and on their journey, the women may also encounter polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, musk oxen and arctic wolves. Starting with the 60km “pinnacle” leg, the women will progress slowly on the frozen fjord before the track becomes slightly hilly. The subsequent legs at 23 to 37km (per day) are relatively short, but can be quite tough when there is fresh snow.
For this next expedition - HER Planet Earth’s eighth to date - the team has chosen to partner, with UK-based company Secret Compass, founded by ex-British military officers of Her Majesty's Forces Parachute Regiment, who are pioneers in adventurous travel leading expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth.
“HER Planet Earth’s objective is to inspire people to leave their comfort zones, families and homes for a certain period of time, while pushing their limits in an effort to rally support for a worthy cause. At the core of our culture is a commitment to empowering underprivileged women, a passion for adventure and a deep respect and love of nature. HER Planet Earth seeks to take participants on pioneering expeditions around the world, so that they can make new discoveries, flourish as individuals, but most importantly, contribute to society. By travelling in such challenging conditions, the team hopes to bring international attention to the need for societies, governments and corporations to get involved and help support climate action and women empowerment,” said HER Planet Earth Founder and CEO, Christine Amour-Levar
NOTES TO EDITORS
About HER Planet Earth
HER Planet Earth is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore that aims to empower women as a way to mitigate climate change. One of its core objectives is to inspire more women to become policymakers and agents of change in order to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet. HER Planet Earth organises challenging, often pioneering, and self-funded expeditions around the world to increase awareness on environmental degradation and raise funds for programmes that empower and educate underprivileged women affected by climate change - ultimately helping them build climate change resilience. The organisation partners with nature lovers, environmentalists, scientists, polar explorers, adventurers, women’s rights advocates, corporates, tech entrepreneurs, feminists and charities that have programmes and structures in place dedicated to building a deeper connection between gender equality, genuinely sustainable development and the protection of the environment.
About UN Women UK
UN Women UK is the UK arm of UN Women, the global organisation for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Founded in 2010, UN Women works at every level to create change, from working with governments to change policy and legislation, to empowering business leaders to create inclusive workplaces, to delivering programmes on the ground for women entrepreneurs and survivors of violence. For more information, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Strategic Importance of Greenland
Greenland's strategic importance has also grown amid increased Arctic shipping and international competition for rare minerals. Arctic waters are becoming more navigable because of melting ice, linked to global warming. The vast island is strategically located between North America and Europe, easing deliveries to many markets. Mining is expanding because Greenland's vast ice sheet has been retreating significantly in recent years.
The team of this HER Planet Earth Greenland 2020 Expedition is formed by 10 intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about protecting the environment and empowering underprivileged women. To read the team bios please click here.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s fundraising page here.
To see pictures of the team’s journey:
‘LIKE’ their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
For media queries, please contact: email@example.com
A self-funded team of 12 women from around the world trekked across the phenomenal Laugavegur region in Southern Iceland last week, raising over S$50,000 in the process, for underprivileged women affected by climate change.
The group under the banner of HER Planet Earth, a Singapore-based NGO that promotes female empowerment and environmental conservation, spent a week traversing one of the most active, volcanic and alien landscapes of Iceland, on the very edge of the Laugahraun lava field, an area originally formed by an eruption in 1477.
"We chose Iceland because it is one of the countries already feeling the brunt of climate change. In fact, land in Iceland is rising at an average of 1.4 inches per year in certain areas, as a result of climate change. The melting of the country's glaciers reduces pressure on the land below and allows the surface to rise. This changing geography is another tangible showcase of the effects of global warming," said Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of HER Planet Earth.
During the journey, the all-female team hiked over stunning blue glaciers, black sandy deserts and multicoloured mountains. As they made their way to the heart of this geothermal wonderland, they discovered glittering obsidian lava fields, pristine waterfalls and steaming hot geysers with their bubbling sulphuric acid pools.
The women camped outdoors throughout the trek and experienced a range of temperatures from beautiful sunny days, to cold, windy and rainy spells with 5-6°C temperatures for the most part. Hiking for about 10 hours per day on average, the team covered close to 80km of undulating mountainous terrain, crossing many freezing rivers in the processes. They experienced an ever changing micro-climate, which culminated in the team's early evacuation on the last day, as 51km/h gale-force winds started battering the mountains, forcing the climbers to seek shelter.
What is the issue and why does it matter?
In many countries around the world, women are among the most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation, partly because women make up the larger share of the agricultural workforce and tend to have access to fewer income-earning jobs.
In the past decade, disasters have led to the loss of 700 thousand lives, 1.7 billion people affected and economic losses of USD 1.4 trillion. These effects disproportionately affect women and girls: multiple discriminations mean that women are more vulnerable in crises and post disasters situations.
In view of this, all proceeds from the expedition will go to UN Women UK, a charity dedicated to empowering women globally by removing the barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential. The funds raised will be allocated to programmes focused on the economic empowerment of women in rural areas of Asia, notably in Bangladesh, Nepal and Vietnam. This will include safe houses for women and girls in these countries, and will be used to send 70 girls to leadership courses, so that they may be empowered and supported to respond to community challenges.
Ultimately, the team wants to use this expedition to highlight that gender often remains the untold story behind climate change. While climate change is a global phenomenon, its effects are felt locally, and poor people suffer the most - among the world’s 1.3 billion poor people, the majority are women.
To see more pictures of the team's expedition to Iceland, please click here.
To make a donation to the team's fundraising page for UN Women UK, please click here.
Expedition Partners: Just Challenge
Teammates: Isabella Ma, Enkhtur Maini, Sabina Wong Sutch, Ada Loi, Barbara Fras, Anne Stauffer, Carole Eeckhaute, Erika Switzer-Masiero, Isabelle Valentine, Christine Hart, Jen Abbey and Christine Amour-Levar
Friday 8 March 2019 (International Women’s Day)
Today, on International Women’s Day, Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of Her Planet Earth and Lucy Bennett-Baggs, Founder of Just Challenge, announced that together they would lead an expedition to Iceland, bringing inspirational women together from around the world to drive change and empower women globally.
Just Challenge & Her Planet Earth invite women from any background, industry and country to join ‘Challenge Iceland 2019’, trekking over 75km through spectacular Icelandic terrain to raise crucial funds for UN Women’s programmes that empower and support underprivileged women affected by climate change.
Lucy Bennett-Baggs, Founder of Just Challenge, says “We are really excited to have partnered with Her Planet Earth on Challenge Iceland 2019. This is the first ‘women only’ challenge we have launched and we are incredibly proud to be leading an experience that truly promotes gender equality in today’s increasingly pressurised world. This is a once in a life time opportunity that not only develops the women that take part, but also raises funds for those much less fortunate than ourselves”.
Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of Her Planet Earth, states “While climate change is a global phenomenon, its impact is not spread across a level playing field. Its effects are felt locally, and poor people suffer the most. Among the world’s 1.3 billion people living in poverty, the majority are women. I am thrilled to partner with Just Challenge on this incredible adventure to one of the most scenic places on earth. Together we will rally a group of dedicated women to raise valuable funds for underprivileged women, ultimately helping them transform their livelihoods so that they can become more resilient to climate change.”
The team of this HER Planet Earth Iceland 2019 Expedition is formed by 12 intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about protecting the environment and empowering underprivileged women. To read the team bios please click here.
Join their mission and advance the cause of gender equality. Apply for one of the limited places today: www.just-challenge.com/iceland2019
For interview requests with Lucy Bennett-Baggs or Christine Amour-Levar – please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Just Challenge - Just Challenge delivers life changing adventures, for all abilities, with impact and meaning. They provide companies with the opportunities to engage employees, clients and/or leaders through physical challenges. They believe those that contribute to society and nurture their people will be the ones to prosper. Just Challenge designs and delivers bespoke experiences focusing on four pillars; employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, client relationships and leadership development.
Her Planet Earth - HER Planet Earth is a global women’s advocacy movement that promotes a deeper connection between women empowerment and the integrity of the environment. The non-profit organisation, which is headquartered in Singapore, aims to inspire more women to become policymakers and agents of change to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s fundraising page here.