March 8 marks International Women’s Day, which celebrates the achievements of women across all spheres of influence in society.
As Bob Dylan said, ‘the times, they are a’changin’ and over the past 100 years women have made great strides in the workplace and asserting our rights and freedom. International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on this, as well as how far we still need to go.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, listed below are a few female explorers whose achievements have made a big impact on history, but have not gained the recognition they deserved.
Born in 1868, Gertrude Bell spent years travelling through the Middle East and learning about the region’s history as well as mapping the area. Her knowledge and experience made her integral to establishing the Hashemite dynasties of what is now modern-day Jordan and Iraq. In addition to this, she was a keen archaeologist and mountaineer, being particularly renowned for surviving 53 hours on a rope on the north-east face of the Finsteraarhorn, when her and her expedition team were caught in a blizzard.
Speaking about her work, she said:
‘It’s so nice to be a spoke in the wheel, one that helps to turn, not one that hinders.’
Harriet Chalmers Adams
This American explorer writer and photographer travelled throughout South America, Asia, the South Pacific, crossed Haiti and traversed the Andes on horseback and retraced the footsteps of Christopher Columbus. During WWI she was a correspondent for Harpers Magazine and the only woman allowed to go into the trenches.
Of women as adventurers, she wrote
‘I’ve wondered why men have so absolutely monopolized the field of exploration. Why did women never go to the Arctic try for one pole or the other, or invade Africa, Tibet, or unknown wildernesses? I’ve never found my sex a hinderment; never faced a difficulty which a woman, as well as a man, could not surmount; never felt a fear of danger; never lacked courage to protect myself. I’ve been in tight places and have seen harrowing things.’
If there was ever a woman to prove that age is just a number, it is Barbara Hillary. At the age of 75, she was the first African American woman to reach the North Pole in 2007. Not content with that, she then crossed the South Pole in January 2011 at the age of 79, to become the first African American women to cross both poles.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Hillary said,
‘As long as you have reasonably good health, why make yourself old?’