Many female explorers, adventurers and pioneers have been forgotten in history, so to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve highlighted some inspirational women who have led explorations from Victorian times to today.
Charity Challenger Kerry is not only a tireless adventurer, having taken on some of the toughest Charity Challenges such as Trek Machu Picchu and Sahara Desert Trek, she’s a tireless campaigner and fundraiser. To date she has raised £214,500 in memory of her friend Julie and is an ambassador for Breast Cancer Now. As if that wasn’t enough, in 2020 she has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. We can not wait to see her again on our Dalai Lama Himalayan trek later this year.
“I have found a dream of beauty at which one might look all one’s life and sigh.” – Isabella Bird Pre-empting the rebellion of the Suffragettes movement in the early 20th century, Isabella Bird overcame the limitations of her gender to become the first woman to be elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. An explorer, writer, photographer and naturalist, she began her travels relatively late, at 41, visiting America, Morocco, India, Kurdistan, the Persian Gulf, Iran, Tibet, Malaysia, Korea, Japan and China.
Never happier than up a mountain, usually declaring to those around her that “life could be worse,” Penny has been lucky enough to fulfill her ambitions and dreams many times over. Following a career in the Army, she settled down long enough to raise two wonderful children and see them independent and successful before the life of adventure beckoned and she retrained as an Outdoor Instructor. Since then then the Charity Challenge team have been have been lucky to have Penny lead cycling, running, trekking and even horse trekking challenges in many parts of the World, including Iceland, Sumatra, Mongolia, China, Cuba and Madagascar, and she has even written a book about her expeditions! – A Knight Fulfilled.
Incredibly for the time, Bessie Coleman strove against gender and race discrimination to become the first black woman pilot in the world. She flew all over the US, performing aerial tricks and lecturing to raise funds for an African-American flying school until sadly she died during an air show rehearsal at the age of 34.
Another contemporary globe trotter with a cause close to her heart is Kris Hallenga, co-founder of the charity Coppafeel! After being diagnosed with incurable breast cancer in her early 20s, Kris has fought against adversity to campaign for more awareness and education around breast cancer. Coppafeel has completed an impressive seven challenges with Charity Challenge, and is embarking on the eighth this year, on the Sahara Desert Trek.
Even now the Middle East can be a difficult area to explore as a woman. Freya Stark didn’t let gender barriers hold her back, travelling to remote areas of Turkey in the early 20th century-often on foot or by camel living in Baghdad, and mapping uncharted areas of the Islamic world. She authored more than 24 travel books covering local history, culture and tales of everyday life.
“You’re doing something amazing, savour it!”- Laura Harris
Charity Challenge Leader Laura Harris has led many awe-inspiring treks across the world, including the Great Wall of China. She believes in embracing the challenge in front of you and that having a team around you is the key to success – whether that’s through sharing support, snacks, or stories.
Poppy Jaman OBE
Let’s not forget that this International Women’s Day, there are female adventurers trekking across mountains, fields and roads less travelled right now – many of them in the name of charity. Poppy Jaman OBE is one of these intrepid women, currently on our Andean Volcano Charity Challenge acting as a mental health ambassador, supporting a group of HSBC trekkers as they raise awareness and money for mental health charities. As well as trekking across volcanoes, Poppy is an internationally respected mental health advocate, national policy advisor and global voice of authority on workplace mental health. Her vision is to create mentally healthy workplaces globally.