UN Women congratulates trailblazing women Mount Everest climbers

Date : 23 May 2013

A powerful symbol of rising equality and women’s empowerment

Women from around the world are scaling their way to the top but barriers remain.

Last week a 27-year-old graphic artist named Raha Moharrak made headlines as the first Saudi woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. On the same day she reached the summit, the first woman from Pakistan, Samina Baig, did the same.

The next day, the first twins, 21-year-old Tashi and Nancy Malik from India, made it to the top of the world’s highest mountain. The next day, an Indian woman, Arunima Sinha, became the first female amputee to reach the summit.

“By scaling new heights and making history, these women are an inspiration for women everywhere who want to realize their potential,” said Lakshmi Puri, Acting Head of UN Women. “Beyond the physical challenge of climbing, these women had to overcome a mountain of obstacles and discrimination to realize their dream. This is still the reality for a majority of women everywhere.”

Harsh conditions and high altitudes are not the only challenges these women have faced. Moharrak climbed Mt. Everest as the youngest and only female in a four-person team called Arabs with Altitude. But before even setting foot at the base of the mountain, she had to persuade her family to let her go.

“Convincing them to let her climb was as great a challenge as the mountain itself,” according to her biography on the climbers’ website, Arabs on the Top of the World. Now the family fully supports her efforts.

Today, more and more women can say that they have stood at the top of the world, one that is very different than it was 60 years ago, when a British expedition ascended Mt. Everest for the first time.

“Through determination, strength and will, these women are a symbol of rising equality and empowerment for women worldwide,” Ms. Puri said.