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Irish Trekking Company Earth’s Edge to Run World’s First Female-Led Kilimanjaro Climb

Irish Trekking Company Earth’s Edge to Run World’s First Female-Led Kilimanjaro Climb

Irish high-altitude trekking company Earth’s Edge has announced an all-female expedition to Kilimanjaro in 2022. The epic trip to the ‘roof of Africa’ will not only be attended by an all-women group of guests, but will be led exclusively by female porters and guides on the ground in Tanzania.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

This expedition will not only break the glass ceiling, it will shine a light on the gender inequalities within the outdoor industry and provide much needed jobs and training to women in the region.

It’s no secret that the adventure and outdoor industry is one which is primarily male dominated. By launching this trip, Earth’s Edge will be employing 80 local women in Tanzania, towork as expedition guides, cooks and porters. Prior to this female-only trip, running on 17 July, 2022, there are five other Earth’s Edge expeditions to Kilimanjaro, all of which will use an increasing number of female porters and guides from their team in the region.

Female Recruitment Drive

But Earth’s Edge won’t just be recruiting from the pool of female porters currently working the mountain. They will be actively looking to recruit, encourage and train more women to become porters and guides on Kilimanjaro. Over the coming year, they will be working with their local operations team in Tanzania, as well as the Kilimanjaro Porter Assistance Programme, to encourage more females into this lucrative industry.

Maggie Samson is the Director of Operations in Tanzania. “Working with an all-female crew will be really exciting,” she says. “I work with a few female guides and I have formed a group to ask them to help to find other female porters and cooks. I’m getting to know them all one by one. The ones that I have are very excited, and really looking forward to doing this expedition.”

A life-changing Salary

In the Kilimanjaro region, a job as a guide or a porter is considered to be one of the finest you can get. The expedition salary of $100 is a life-changing figure to women on the ground, many of whom are discouraged from work or spending time outside the home. A mountain guide is one of the best-paid jobs in the region – while the average monthly salary in Tanzania is €450, the typical salary in rural regions is far lower.

“Most of the female porters that I’ve met left school early, so they’re not qualified for other jobs,” says Maggie. “That’s why being a porter is the best job for them. When they’ve done that job for a while, they can progress into guiding. A lot of the guides we have today used to be porters. This job pays well – it’s something that can help women in their lives. So they consider that job very important, and they work hard.”

Earth’s Edge currently works with female porters and guides on several of their other trips, including expeditions in Peru, Kenya and India. Their plan is to increase this in as many countries as possible. It should be noted that in some countries, like Pakistan, it’s almost impossible to hire females on an expedition.

“’When I first started working with Earth’s Edge, I was super impressed by how many female Irish guides we had working with us. I am so thrilled for us to be continuing to grow this internationally,” says Eleanor McAree, Operations Manager at Earth’s Edge.

The expedition will run in collaboration with Melissa McDermott, the outdoor adventure enthusiast and hiking guide behind the Galz Gone Wild community project.

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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