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Women on a Mission to Trek Across the Namib Desert in Support of Women Survivors of War

Updated: Jul 11, 2023


For Immediate Release


Singapore, July 2023 - An independent, self-funded team of 16 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 10-day pioneering expedition to Namibia in September 2023. The team will attempt to become the first all-female team to cross the world’s oldest Desert, the Namib, on foot from the Kuiseb river to the wild Atlantic coast.


For this next expedition, WOAM’s 12th to date, the team will trek 125km on foot across over some of the world’s tallest sand dunes in one of the driest regions of the African continent. The expedition’s objective is to raise $75,000 USD for women survivors of war in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Sudan 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 14 countries. In Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Sudan 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 quickly when women are most in need, to help prevent and heal the trauma they experience during war. Through a non-partisan approach and responsive grants, Women for Women International can 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. Currently, Women for Women International are working with partners in Syria, Myanmar, Ukraine and the Tigray region of Ethiopia and have worked with partner organisations in Bangladesh and Yemen.


Through the Ukraine Conflict Response Fund, Women for Women International team have identified their priority partners on the ground, working to support the overlooked needs of women affected by the current conflict, who are now exposed to extreme violence, abuse, and the risk of human trafficking. Together with partners in Ukraine and Poland, Women for Women International are offering psychosocial support, trauma-informed counselling, medical care, legal counselling, Polish language training courses and vocational skill training to Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), as well as safe spaces for rehabilitation and for women to gather and connect with each other. In April 2023, Women for Women International mobilised the Conflict Response Fund to identify Sudanese women’s rights organisations to meet the urgent needs of women impacted by the conflict in Sudan.Through local partners, Women for Women International are conducting a needs assessment, prioritising women’s rights organisations to provide urgent support to women displaced in Khartoum and neighbouring states of Gezira and Gedaref. The teams are distributing emergency food kits as well as dignity kits, flashlights and whistles to women and girls, in addition to providing trauma-informed counselling and documenting cases of gender-based violence.


Since 2002, Women for Women International has served more than 127,000 women in Afghanistan, providing women with the tools and resources to build a sustainable future for themselves and their families. After pausing programmes for security reasons in August 2021, training centres have reopened and despite ongoing challenges the team continues to support women enrolled in the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme in four provinces. The programme has helped women care for their health and wellbeing and support their family’s basic needs.


WOAM, now in its 12th year of operation, has raised well 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 elevenWOAM expeditions have been to regions of the Himalayas, the Middle East, Africa, Mongolia, Southeast 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.”


The Oldest Desert in the World


Lying between a high inland plateau and the Atlantic Ocean, the Namib Desert extends along the coast of Namibia, merging with the Kaokoveld Desert into Angola in the north and south with the Karoo Desert in South Africa. It boasts the dauntingly desolate landscape of the Skeleton Coast, some of the biggest sand dunes in the world, uniquely adapted desert wildlife, and a number of breathtaking natural attractions and landscapes.Namibia is also home to desert elephants and has the world’s largest population of free roaming cheetahs. The overall route will take the team six days to complete hiking from the Kaiser river to the wild Atlantic coast.


After the crossing, the group will visit a women’s centre called Penduka 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 Namibia. 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.”


FIND OUT MORE


About WOAM

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’s strategy is to organise and promote yearly campaigns and challenging expeditions – that are self-funded by each participant - to increase visibility, and to raise money for specific charities. 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 (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.


To learn more about the power of women, for women, visit womenforwomen.org.uk or follow @WomenforWomenUK on social media. 

UK Charity Registration Number: 1115109


Team Profiles

Sixteen intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds form the team of this ‘Women on a Mission’ Expedition to Namibia 2023. Most are based in Singapore, but some will be coming from other four corners of the globe. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about supporting charitable causes and helping the less privileged. Please visit our team bio page here.


For media queries, please contact:


Christine Amour-Levar (Co-Founder of Women on a Mission)

Email: Christine@womenmission.com Mobile: +65 9170 5237


To see pictures of the team’s journey, ‘LIKE’ their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


To make a donation to the team's page please visit their fundraising page here.



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