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.