The Feminist Hiking Collective is proposing a mountain protection training programme as an ongoing initiative that aims to build and sustain knowledge on mountain protection on a global scale through a diverse network of mountain women. The programme will include a four-month online training for women who live and/or work in the mountains from all over the world, which will focus on mountain safety for mountain women on both local and global scales, and will interweave aspects of collective feminist leadership and the relationship between the protection of mountains and economic justice for its communities.
Vision, goals and objectives
The project consists of a collective mountain protection training programme. The project is led by the Mountain Women of the World network, which is a transnational network co-founded by non-profit organization Empowering Women of Nepal, non-profit organization Feminist Hiking Collective from Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, group las Cholitas Escaladoras de Bolivia, group Kilimanjaro Women from Tanzania, enterprise Mujeres a la Cumbre from Argentina and Chile and organization Women Who Hike Africa from Kenya. The project has the collaboration of participatory conservation project Suma Nativas from Argentina.
The pandemic has only escalated the need for urgent action to be taken in mitigating the impacts of climate change which inevitably has subsequent detrimental impacts on the fragile mountains and its ecosystems. In response to this the Feminist Hiking Collective is proposing a mountain training program which will be an ongoing initiative that aims to build and sustain knowledge on mountain protection on a global scale through a diverse network of mountain women.
The programme will include a four-month online training for women who live and/or work in the mountains from all over the world, which will focus on mountain safety for mountain women on both local and global scales, and will interweave aspects of collective feminist leadership and the relationship between the protection of mountains and economic justice for its communities. The online training will be complemented by three field training sessions in restoration and conservation activities for degraded land in the area of Potrerillos, Argentina. The online and field training will form the basis for the creation of multilingual resources which will then be disseminated across mountain communities, in this way creating a long term multiplier effect which sees a global call to action where mountain protection knowledge and practices are prioritised and sustained. The programme will foreground mountain women’s collective experiences, knowledge, wisdom and will act as a diverse and inclusive space for a range of voices to create collective action in mountain protection.
Expected implementation and outcomes
The Mountain Women of the World network started implementing the first phase of the collective mountain protection training programme in January 2021, organising a Webinar for Earth Day: “We are Nature: Mountain Women Collectively Defending the Earth”. This was a space for over 200 mountain women from roughly 40 countries to share practices and knowledge about mountain protection, leave-no-trace principles and restoration practices. A multilingual resource pack was shared with all participants which included key contents from the webinar. During the webinar, the leave-no-trace month of May was launched which supported mountain communities worldwide to protect the mountains by practicing waste management strategies and tree planting.
The second phase of the project consists of the mountain protection training programme that will take place during the period November 2021 to May 2022.
The online course will be organised in four modules – each goes over the period of one month including four online workshops of 2 hours for every module (8h). The modules will cover:
- Mountain protection practices including leave-no-trace.
- Mountain safety and autonomy in mountains.
- Community-based tourism grounded in mountain protection: training and linking with opportunities for economic autonomy.
- Rights of women mountain workers.
The field training will cover:
- Mountain restoration: restoring degraded lands in mountains, ecological restoration principles and techniques, creation of participatory monitoring programmes for restoration actions in the area.
- Mountain protection: leave-no-trace, education on avoiding biological invasions in mountain areas, how to build mountain adapted greenhouses as tools to nurture native plants for restoration and landscaping.
- Skills and tools for community based tourism: local development and economic opportunities related to mountaineering and outdoor activities.
The area where the field training will be held is part of the Protected Natural Area of Potrerillos. The area was severely affected by a bushfire in 2019, with over 15,000 hectares burnt. In order to restore the areas affected and support local people to protect their land, Suma Nativas started a participatory restoration project at the beginning of 2021. The field training aims to build on this ongoing work. The training will be followed by the documentation of the methodology and key learnings, so that it could be a replicable and scalable model for land restoration with a participatory, gender-sensitive approach.
Climbing, mountaineering or outdoor sport focus
The programme aims to ground mountaineering in collective mountain protection: raise awareness of the impact of mountaineering on the mountain’s ecosystem, build knowledge and tools to limit its impact and restore from past damage.
The field programme will be in a mountain area working with a community of women who are directly related to outdoors activities and mountaineering, and will include tools to build economic autonomy in connection with mountaineering. The training will specifically focus on exchanging and providing, through a perspective of mountain protection, skills and tools for community-based tourism and local mountaineering. The mountain women recipients of these trainings will then be able to become trainees themselves, and continue building and sharing knowledge across the local communities. This aims to create a long-term multiplier effect in building a culture of mountaineering and outdoor sport that is grounded in mountain protection.
Best practice in mountaineering and mountain-based sports for mountain protection
The uniqueness of the Mountain Women of the World collective mountain protection training project lies in the fact that it is grounded in the collective feminist leadership of mountain women from across the globe who are promoting and building a different kind of mountaineering narrative that roots its practice in protecting the mountains, the Earth and its vulnerable ecosystems. Collective mountain protection according to the Feminist Hiking Collective is based on the plural diverse knowledge, wisdom and practices – it is not just a “one-way-fits-all” practice. The training programme is foreground in the richness of the varied experiences and insights of mountain women across the world ensuring to honour and value the different practices in a non-extractive manner.
The vision on mountain protection aligns with the consideration that all belong to the Earth and must exist in a state of equilibrium with all of nature. The protection of the mountains is seen as vital in mitigating and restoring the damage from anthropogenic drivers of change on the ecosystems of the mountains including irresponsible mountaineering practices, tourism, extractive industries and destructive agricultural and forestry practices.
To discover more about the UIAA Mountain Protection Award please click here.