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The role of women in society has changed and evolved so much from what it was thought to be in the past. Women today are not just walking shoulder to shoulder with but, in many cases, even ahead of men. From sports to business to science, women have slowly but surely made their way into every sphere that they were once deemed unfit for. But they persevered. And to celebrate this perseverance and strength, we celebrate International Women’s Day each year on the 8th of March.
International Women’s Day is celebrated to let the world know how far our women have come. The challenges that they faced over generations could not keep them down. As years rolled by, the challenges too kept changing, but the women braved them all and continue to do so.
From being challenged to choosing to challenge, this is what our women should be encouraged to do. The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. It urges everyone to stand up and challenge gender bias and inequality in society, at the workplace, or in any other aspect of our daily lives where we see women being treated unequally. It urges everyone to celebrate women’s achievements and create an inclusive world.
Women, and men, from all over the world are sending in their #ChooseToChallenge images as instructed in the IWD website, posing with one hand up. This is a gesture of solidarity that is likely to urge more people to join the movement.
Women making a mark
Like in every other field, women are making their mark in sports and outdoor activities as well. There are several women to look up to who have been inspiring many young girls to follow in their footsteps and make a name for themselves in outdoor athletics and adventure sports too.
One such example is Lynn Hill, who made many proud and shut many a critic’s mouths back in the 1970s. Standing at 5’2’’ and around 100 pounds, Lynn was a climber but was a little smaller than you would expect from people in sports. Despite her drawbacks of being shorter than the other climbers in the community, Lynn completed the first free ascent of The Nose route on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. With no fixed gear pre-set into the rock, Lynn Hill not only made the climb but also made a place for herself on the list of the climbing community’s inspirations, and was later described as both one of the best female climbers in the world and one of the best climbers of all time.
Karina Hollekim is another such inspirational outdoor athlete. She is a champion in one of the most high-risk and adrenaline-intensive outdoor sport, Base Jumping. Karina Hollekim became the first woman to complete a SkiBase. Despite having suffered a nearly fatal fall in 2006 and having both her legs broken, Karina not only came out of it alive but got back to skiing just one year later.
Another wonderful example of the strength and dedication that women show in sports is Mirna Valerio. Mirna Valerio broke the stereotype that people mostly have about runners being tall and lean. Mirna, the creator of the blog ‘Fat Girl Running,’ is an ultra-runner who did not let her weight come in the way of her love for the sport. She competes in 50k and 100k races all across the United States. She says that instead of focusing on speed, she tries to take in the joy of running.
Women behind the brands
You will probably find very few outdoor or sports brands that are founded and run by women. Yet, there are women behind some of the most revolutionary brands in the world of sports. And one such brand is Oboz.
Meet Amy Beck, the President of the footwear brand Oboz. Amy Beck has extensive experience in the outdoor industry, having worked in retail, brand marketing, distribution strategy, and sales management. Holding a position like this in a world-renowned brand is a commendable job for anyone, and Amy Beck has proved that it is not impossible for a woman either.
She Moves Mountains - The North Face
Businesses and brands are becoming increasingly aware of their social responsibilities today. A gesture worth appreciating was shown by one of the highest-selling apparel brands in the outdoor industry, The North Face, when they launched a campaign named “She Moves Mountains” back in 2018. The campaign came as an effort to address the underrepresentation of women in outdoor sports. In sports like mountaineering, there was hardly any representation of women by popular brands, and it was seen only as a male domain.
The North Face realized that showcasing more women role models in these fields would encourage more women to join the sport. She Moves Mountains was an all-women campaign that later spread on to other fields, including science and music. There were many inspirational stories of women shared on social media with the hashtag #SheMovesMountains. The North Face has always supported women in sports since the 1970s, but this campaign went beyond just sports.
It is high time that women got the same standing as men, not just in sports or at work, but in every aspect of life as a whole. Let’s hope that this International Women’s Day, everyone Chooses To Challenge.