At Take on Nepal we are incredibly proud of our team of young female guides who are turning heads on the trails to Everest Base Camp. The trekking industry is dominated by males, very few women are employed and there are a few reasons for this:
Nepal is a patriarchal society, it is very difficult for young women to breakthrough the expectations placed upon them by society. In the villages of Nepal daughters are often seen as a member of the family only until they marry, which is often at age 14-16 when they then move to their husbands home village and work on the husbands family farm.
A girls education is not valued, being able to speak English is important in the tourism industry, women are often not given the opportunity to learn.
It’s hard for young women to imagine working in an industry where they don’t have role models, young women need a huge amount of support to brave the lodges, the checkpoints and the many challenges faced by guides and porters on the trails.
It is expensive to become a professional trekking guide. Female guides can’t carry as heavy a load as their male counterparts and therefore many trekking companies won’t hire them.
How we support our female guides:
Many of our amazing female guides have been supported through the not for profit organisation “Friends of Himalayan Children Inc. (FHC), FHC was founded by Take on Nepal owner Som Tamang with the aim of educating and empowering the most vulnerable people in Nepal.
We provide opportunities for our team of women guides to further their education in Kathmandu, they also learn to speak English in Kathmandu.
Take on Nepal enrol and pay for the guide training that is required for our female team members to gain their professional guides license. Take on Nepal owner Som Tamang has lead many training treks for the young female guides, they have been taken to various parts of Nepal and taught all the tricks of the trade, this type of training is unheard of in Nepal.
We don’t care that our female guides and porters don’t carry as heavy a load as our male guides and porters, it is not about profit margins for us, it’s about providing life changing opportunities for some of the most incredible young women you will ever meet.
On a recent Everest Base Camp Trek, our group learned about the importance of this work for our team of young female guides, one of our group members Kirsty Nancarrow shared the following:
“This morning we have been touched by the stories of two of our guides, who are extremely strong advocates for the empowerment of women in Nepal. 18yo Rita Tamang was forced to marry at 13. Last year, she won a competition run by the World Organisation for the Future of Nepalese Women, beating 200 others with her presentation, ‘No more child marriages’. She asked to join Take On Nepal earlier this year and has now been able to pay her college fees and graduate. Rita now wants to study social work so she can continue changing the lives of other women. Bimmaya Tamang, 18, is the youngest of six sisters and the only one to refuse marriage. She became the ‘man’ of the house after her father was killed, but was determined to continue her education and fight to get her father’s land back. Thanks to support from the Friends of Himalayan Children and Take On Nepal, Bimmaya is in grade 12 and working as a trekking guide as often as she can. We are totally inspired by these trailblazers and the other female guides on our Everest Base Trek. This journey was never about bucket lists, it was always about celebrating the change that is happening in Nepal, thanks to these brave women and their mentor, Som Tamang.