You're gearing up for an expedition to Iceland this August 2019, followed by two others to Kenya and Papua later this year, tell us about Women on a Mission and Her Planet Earth. How have the preparations for your next trek been going for you so far, and what are you most looking forward to?
Women on a Mission (WOAM) is a non-profit organisation I co-founded with my partners Valerie Boffy and Karine Moge in 2012 and we focus on helping abused women (survivors of war, of domestic abuse, of human trafficking and other forms of abuse). HER Planet Earth, is a non-profit I founded in 2017, and my team and I aim to protect our environment and support underprivileged women affected by climate change. Both entities fundraise by organising challenging, all-female expeditions to off the beaten track locations around the world. These expeditions are self-funded by each participant who help raise funds and awareness through their networks, friends and supporters for our charity partners.
These days, I have about three of four expeditions a year, so training for me is a continuous and ongoing process. Generally, I focus on maintaining my endurance and strength through running and yoga, which I practice almost daily. These activities comprise the main part of my training regimen. Then, depending on the type of expedition coming up, I mix it up and organise training sessions for my teammates and me that include either rock-climbing, biking or hiking, combined with core strength training sessions.
In a few months, my HER Planet Earth team and I will be traveling to Iceland where we will trek across the phenomenal Landmannalaugar region. This area is one of the most active volcanic and alien landscapes located right at the heart of the Southern Icelandic Highlands. It’s an eight-day trek, and it will take us at the very edge of Laugahraun lava field, through spectacular terrain, which was originally formed by a volcanic eruption in 1477.
An important part of this next mission is to raise crucial funds for programmes that empower and support underprivileged women affected by climate change. We want to help them build up their livelihoods so that they can become more resilient to the effects of environmental degradation. The team and I are excited about this upcoming expedition and feel extremely grateful to be able to count on the generous support of our community and friends, who often rally behind the causes we champion.
Are there any women in your life whom you look up to the most? and why?
I am inspired by a multitude of women. I admire many of my friends, partners and teammates from Women on a Mission and HER Planet Earth who have in many ways become my “tribe”. These women are made up of a very diverse group of dedicated and driven individuals of all nationalities, ages and backgrounds. They are all extremely accomplished and well established in their own careers and fields, but equally passionate about empowering underprivileged women and protecting our beautiful planet. Together, we are ignited by the desire to work harder to create a world where human rights and environmental integrity can blossom and prosper.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received, from woman-to-woman?
Recently, a friend sent me this quote: “Empowered women empower women” and it really resonated with me.
What is an empowered woman? It’s someone who knows her strengths and weaknesses and isn't afraid to embrace them. To be empowered means to be in control of your life, aware of your capabilities, and ready to take on even your wildest dreams. It also means creating a path where your purpose is making footprints for others to achieve their goals. Women represent half of the world’s population and every day we are growing in economic power and influence, yet continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles. I passionately believe women should support each other more, instead of criticising and tearing each other down.
The quote is also a good reminder that privilege comes with great responsibility. I am keenly aware that I am one of the lucky ones. I have been given every chance and every opportunity to succeed – a loving home, a good education and many opportunities in my career and in my life. Yet as I learn more about the plight of women around the world, I realise that women are often the most vulnerable to environmental degradation, armed conflict and sexual violence. So many women around the world have no voice. They are deprived of the most basic freedom: the right to live in peace and happiness with their loved ones, the right to education and self-accomplishment, the right to live with respect and decency, the right to dream. That is why we should all be driven to support and empower women - and less privileged women especially - whenever we can. Women who are truly empowered, support and empower other women.
Can you share what drives you every day? What motivates you to do what you do?
The biggest driver for me is to lead an interesting and meaningful life, where I can use my skills and experience to make a difference. I love working on stimulating projects, meeting interesting people, traveling to new places and planning exciting challenges. I get motivated and excited when I am learning new things, particularly when it’s outside my comfort zone. It is extremely important for me to know that I am contributing to the world in my own small way. I also derive a lot of pleasure and fulfillment from helping others become happier and more successful.
What has been your proudest achievement to date?
Giving birth to my four children and raising them day-by-day in partnership with my husband and ex-husband, who are both wonderful and dedicated fathers. Seeing my children blossom as kind, happy, caring and well-adjusted individuals is what gives me the greatest satisfaction in life.
How would you describe your own personal fashion or style?
I love fashion and dressing up. What we wear is often our most powerful and creative form of personal expression. What we choose to wear tells everyone about our mood for the day, about our personality and even what we think of ourselves. If I’m not wearing my sports or trekking gear, you will find me in stilettos and usually in something bright and feminine.