‘Women on a Mission’ Achieves Historic Feat: First All-Female Team to Cross the Namib Desert on Foot
Updated: Oct 9
Singapore, October 2023 - In an extraordinary accomplishment, 'Women on a Mission' (WOAM), an independent, self-funded team comprising 17 women from diverse backgrounds and from around the world, has etched their names in the annals of exploration history. This remarkable group, aligned with the Singapore-headquartered non-profit organisation, 'Women on a Mission,' which supports and empowers women survivors of war and violence, has achieved a world-first by becoming the first all-female team to traverse the world's oldest desert, the Namib, entirely on foot.
This ambitious undertaking marked WOAM's 12th expedition to date, covering a staggering 144 kilometres over 5 days and 6 nights. The team scaled a cumulative elevation of 4,188 metres, navigating the imposing sand dunes in one of the world's driest regions on the African continent.
While covering this formidable terrain, the expedition raised an impressive $70,000 USD to support women survivors of war in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Sudan through their partnership with Women for Women International – UK, an organization dedicated to transforming the lives of marginalized women across the globe. The charity, which primarily serves women survivors of conflict and war in 14 countries, played a pivotal role in this expedition. Through its year-long Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program, the organization offers critical support to women in conflict zones. Additionally, Women for Women International operates the Conflict Response Fund, providing rapid assistance to women in urgent need during conflicts.
Currently, Women for Women International is working with partners in Syria, Myanmar, Ukraine, and the Tigray region of Ethiopia, among others, to address the pressing needs of women affected by conflicts. The organization offers psychosocial support, trauma-informed counselling, medical care, legal counselling, vocational skill training, and safe spaces for women in crisis.
The team’s journey was a mesmerizing blend of challenge and wonder, featuring strenuous days of hiking in scorching heat, contrasted by nights spent camping in the biting cold and the howling winds of the Namib as the team approached the untamed Atlantic coast. This epic adventure through the Namib Desert began at the Kuiseb river and culminated at the haunting Eduard Bohlen Shipwreck. This colossal cargo ship met its fate on Namibia's eerie Skeleton Coast on September 5th, 1909. Today, it lies partially buried beneath the ever-shifting sands, serving as a solemn testament to its ill-fated voyage from Swakopmund to Table Bay.
The final evening provided an unforgettable experience beneath a captivating canopy of stars, surrounded by colonies of seals. The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, the team set off in a convoy of four-wheel drives, tracing the picturesque, flamingo-dotted Skeleton Coast until they reached Swakopmund, a town renowned for some of Namibia's largest salt mines. These salt mines stand as a testament to the awe-inspiring geological forces that have shaped this land over eons and serve as a cornerstone of the local economy. Vast salt pans are meticulously harvested, creating frothy pink pools that yield salt primarily used for industrial purposes.
WOAM's Ongoing Impact:
With 12 years of operation under its belt, WOAM has raised an impressive USD $1,400,000 USD to support organizations advancing women's causes worldwide. Alongside Women for Women International, WOAM has championed and raised funds for charities like International Justice Mission, UN Women, AWARE (Singapore's leading gender equality advocacy group), and Pertapis Home for Women and Girls in Singapore.
Founded with the purpose of supporting and empowering women survivors of war and violence, WOAM conducts expeditions to raise funds and awareness for organizations dedicated to women's causes.
Sara Bowcutt, Managing Director of Women for Women International - UK, commended WOAM's dedication, saying, "WOAM pushes themselves far outside their comfort zone to raise money and awareness for women survivors of war. Each trek they take on is just as challenging as the last, and WOAM members truly go the extra mile to leverage their networks and raise incredible sums of money, which make a real difference to the women we serve."
Following their crossing of the Namib Desert, the team visited Penduka, a women's centre for survivors of domestic violence. This encounter allowed the WOAM team to gain insights into the challenges facing women in Namibia. Penduka empowers women to earn sustainable incomes, improve their families' livelihoods, and uplift entire communities.
At the heart of WOAM's mission is the desire to inspire women to step out of their comfort zones and embrace adventure while pushing their limits to support worthy causes. WOAM's culture is grounded in a deep love for nature and a passion for exploration, leading them to remote and challenging corners of the world. The organisation aims to draw international attention to the critical need for societies, governments, and corporations to combat violence against women in every form.
Christine Amour-Levar, WOAM Co-Founder, stated, "Through our efforts, we want to reach out to the women who are often left behind – those who struggle with poverty and violence, who are denied basic education and health care, and whose lives have been devastated by conflict." Valerie Boffy, WOAM Co-Founder, added, "By raising funds for Women for Women International, we hope to support women survivors of war around the world who have quite literally lost everything. With over twenty brutal armed conflicts across the globe and unprecedented levels of violence against women, there has never been a greater need to support such initiatives that change the world, one woman at a time."
FIND OUT MORE
WOAM, a non-profit organization headquartered in Singapore, blends self-funded expeditions to remote and awe-inspiring global destinations with inspirational fundraising events and workshops, both in Singapore and internationally. WOAM’s overarching mission is to raise awareness and critical funds to support women survivors of war while also empowering those who have endured violence and abuse.
WOAM's strategic approach involves the orchestration and promotion of annual campaigns and challenging expeditions, each participant self-funding their participation. These endeavours serve a dual purpose: to enhance visibility and to generate vital funds for specific charitable causes. WOAM collaborates with established non-profit organizations already equipped with well-structured programs dedicated to assisting marginalized populations, with a particular emphasis on addressing women's issues. http://www.womenmission.com
About Women for Women International (WfWI)
Women for Women International invests where inequality is greatest by helping women who are forgotten — the women survivors of war and conflict. Since 1993, our global community has invested in the power of over 530,000 women across 14 conflict-affected countries, to create a ripple effect that makes the world more equal, peaceful, and prosperous.
Through Women for Women International’s Stronger Women, Stronger Nations Programme, women learn the skills they need to rebuild their families and communities. In Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Sudan, women who join the programme connect with each other to form support networks, are equipped with the skills to earn an income and save and gain knowledge and resources to care for their families and defend their rights. Women use their power together, passing it on to neighbours and their children for lasting change.
That is the power of women, for women. Over the next ten years, our goal is to scale our impact to improve the lives of millions of the most marginalised women affected by war and conflict. Our vision is to create a world in which all women determine the course of their lives and reach their full potential.
UK Charity Registration Number: 1115109
Seventeen intrepid women hailing from 12 different nations united as the 'Women on a Mission' Expedition to Namibia in 2023. Although the majority were rooted in Singapore, this dynamic team also included members from Europe, the United States, Hong Kong, and Australia. These remarkable women are not only highly accomplished professionals in their respective fields but also share a profound commitment to championing charitable causes and extending assistance to those less fortunate.
For media queries, please contact:
Christine Amour-Levar (Co-Founder of Women on a Mission)
Email: Christine@womenmission.com Mobile: +65 9170 5237
Expedition in support of: