Women on a Mission to Trek Across Kyrgyzstan in Support of Women Survivors of War
Updated: Aug 11
Singapore, June 2022 - An independent, self-funded team of thirteen women from around the world, under the banner of Women on a Mission (WOAM), a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore that supports and empowers women survivors of war and violence, will embark on a two-week expedition to Kyrgyzstan in September 2022.
For this next expedition, WOAM’s 11th to date, the team will trek 150km on foot across mountainous landscapes, between 2,500 and 4,000 metres in elevation, while camping on the trail, or staying with local nomadic families in their yurts.
The expedition’s objective is to raise $100,000 USD for women survivors of war in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine via Women for Women International – UK, an organisation that works with some of the most marginalised women in the world helping them to transform their lives.
Women for Women International primarily serves women survivors of conflict and war in eight countries where they’ve established dedicated offices and staff to deliver their year-long Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme. They also recognise women need urgent support when caught in the midst of conflict. Established in 2018, the Conflict Response Fund is a mechanism that allows Women for Women International to respond when women are most in need, to help heal the trauma they experience during war. Through a non-partisan approach and responsive grants, Women for Women International is able to track crises in real time, identify credible partners on the ground and allocate resources to meet the needs of women survivors, no matter what side of a conflict they are on.
In Syria. In partnership with Women Now for Development, they are investing in opportunities for Syrian women and girls to rebuild their lives. Since 2002, Women for Women International has served more than 120,000 women in Afghanistan, providing women with the tools and resources to build a sustainable future for themselves and their families. After pausing the programmes for security reasons in August 2021, the organisation has now reopened their first training centre in Afghanistan.
WOAM, now in its 10th year of operation, has raised over $1,000,000 US dollars to date, to support organisations that advance the position of women around the world. In addition to Women for Women International, the team also champions and has raised funds for the following charities: International Justice Mission, UN Women, AWARE - Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group and Pertapis Home for Women and Girls in Singapore. The past ten WOAM expeditions have been to regions of the Himalayas, the Middle East, Africa, Mongolia, South East Asia and the Arctic Circle.
Sara Bowcutt, Managing Director of Women for Women International - UK stated, “The women we work with live in some of the world’s most dangerous places – it can be hard for us to imagine their daily challenges. I find it so inspiring that WOAM push themselves far outside their comfort zone in order 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.”
Kyrgyzstan, one of central Asia’s most fascinating countries, is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, China to the east, Tajikistan to the south, and Uzbekistan to the west. It is a destination renowned for its breath-taking scenery and rich nomadic culture. From Soviet-era Bishkek, to the stunning Tien Shan mountain range and the ancient Silk Road, the women will explore dramatic gorges and splashing rivers, trek through lush forests and climb up to mountain passes as high as 4,000 metres in altitude, where they will enjoy stunning views of Lake Issyk Kul, the seventh deepest lake in the world.
Furthermore, Kyrgyzstan is one of the least populated countries on earth, with less than 30 people per square kilometres of land. Mountains cover 80% of Kyrgyzstan and the country’s nickname is “the Switzerland of Central Asia”. The nation's largest ethnic group are the Kyrgyz, a Turkic people, which comprise 70.9% of the population. Other ethnic groups include Russians (9.0%) concentrated in the north and Uzbeks (14.5%) living in the south. The team’s journey certainly promises to be a breath-taking experience even if challenging.
Finally, upon their return to Bishkek, the group will visit a women’s centre for survivors of domestic violence. The WOAM team will meet with the social workers running the centre to learn about the issues facing women in Kyrgyzstan. Additionally, the teammates will conduct leadership development and entrepreneurship workshops so as to share their own diverse life and career experiences with the women at the centre.
Ultimately, WOAM’s objective is to inspire women to want to leave their comfort zone, their families and homes for a certain period of time, while pushing their limits in an effort to rally support for a worthy cause. At the core of their culture is a passion for adventure and a deep respect and love of nature. They seek to travel and explore the world, and as a result make new discoveries, flourish as individuals, but most importantly, contribute to society. By travelling in such challenging conditions, WOAM hopes to bring international attention to the need for societies, governments and corporations to get involved and help end violence against women.
WOAM Co-Founder Christine Amour-Levar 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.” WOAM Co-Founder Valerie Boffy 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.”
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WOAM is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore, which combines challenging, self-funded, expeditions to remote and majestic locations around the world, with inspirational fundraising events and workshops in Singapore and abroad, to raise awareness and funds for women survivors of war and to support and empower women who have been subjected to violence and abuse. WOAM partners with existing established non-profit institutions that already have well run programmes and structures in place dedicated to serving the underprivileged with a particular focus on women's issues. http://www.womenmission.com
About Women for Women International
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
Thirteen intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds form the team of this ‘Women on a Mission’ Expedition to Kyrgyzstan 2022. Most are based in Singapore but some will be coming from the Dubai and Europe. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about supporting charitable causes and helping the less privileged. Read our team bios here.
To make a donation to the campaign and support women survivors of war please visit the team's fundraising page here.
For media queries, please contact:
Christine Amour-Levar (Co-Founder of Women on a Mission)
Women on a Mission's trip to Kyrgysztan is being organised by adventure travel company Untamed Borders. Founded in 2007, Untamed Borders runs bespoke trips and small group adventures to some of the world’s most interesting and inaccessible places. Specialising in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Middle East, East Africa, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, Untamed Borders takes over 250 guests a year to unusual and largely unvisited areas of the world.
Originally formed by professional fixers supporting journalists wanting to access difficult areas of the world, Untamed Borders still also serves media professionals today. Travelling in small groups and using local guides, the Untamed Borders mission is to add positive benefit to the countries they visit.