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UN backs over one dozen women in largest all-female Everest expedition

UN backs over one dozen women in largest all-female Everest expedition

In the largest all-female expedition to Mount Everest ever, 13 courageous Nepali women representing the range of the Asian country’s castes and ethnicities, backed by the United Nations, will attempt to reach the world’s highest peak this Spring.

The women hope to draw attention to the impact of climate change on the Himalayas, as well as inspire and encourage other women through their endeavour to work together to achieve their goals. Since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa reached the summit in 1953, only seven Nepali have successfully completed the ascent to the peak.

So far, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) have raised one quarter of the $200,000 needed for the group, called the First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008.

“We hope the efforts of this unique expedition will inspire women across Nepal to reach for their dreams – dreams to become doctors, teachers or even mountaineers,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative in Nepal.

One of the climbers, Nimdoma Sherpa, received WFP food at school as a child.

“It is amazing to think about how far I have come,” she said. “WFP was there to motivate me to begin my schooling and is now supporting me and this amazing group of women from across Nepal to achieve our dream of reaching the top of the world.”

Expectations are high that the group will return with data on how global warming has affected Mount Everest from top to bottom.

“We hope that their observations will provide additional ideas on how to ecologically better manage and preserve this unique tourist and world heritage site,” said Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau, UNDP Country Director in Nepal.

The climbing leader of the team – organized exclusively by women, including the coordinator, technical experts, kitchen staff and mule drivers – will be Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who holds the record for the fastest ascent time for Mount Everest of eight hours and 10 minutes and is also a former WFP beneficiary.