BrandArena: #WomensDay2015: Inspiring Women Who Have Taken The Road Less Travelled

Friday 6 March 2015

#WomensDay2015: Inspiring Women Who Have Taken The Road Less Travelled

Women around the world have been making it happen since time immemorial, across industries like travel, power, music, education, medicine, you name it. When we talk about adventurers and explorers, we often think this is an area conquered mostly by strong men.  However, history is littered with women who have bucked the trend of staying at home and explored the world their way. 

Here are 5 women who have overcome the stereotype, who broke ultimate records, who challenged the world, who took the road less travelled and continue to inspire a new generation of women to do more and be more. Meet 5 extraordinary women who traveled the world and led adventurous lives, because they wanted to expand their horizons, earn money, or simply because boredom was not their style.
Junko Tabei

1.    Junko Tabei: The First Woman To Reach The Summit Of Mount Everest
Junko Tabei was a young adventurous girl who enjoyed climbing and took it further by forming the “Ladies Climbing Club: Japan” after she graduated from school. By 1975, after she had climbed a number of mountains, she set her sights on Mount Everest – until then, the summit had not been reached by any woman. Junko's expedition proved almost fatal – in early May when she was camping at 6,300 meters an avalanche struck their camp. The brave Junko was buried under the snow. 

Tabei lost consciousness for approximately six minutes until her Sherpa guide dug her out. Twelve days after the avalanche, Junko became the first female to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 6, 1975.
2.    Valentina Tereshkova: The First Woman To Have Flown In Space
Valentina’s family suffered a great deal during the World War II, this helped strengthen her will and determination to lead a distinctive life. At 18, Valentina started working for a textile mill, she soon after joined an amateur parachuting club where she learned that she could apply to become a cosmonaut. Amidst fierce competition from other brave girls, Valentina was chosen by the club to fly aboard Vostok 6, scheduled for a June 16, 1963 launch date. And so she came to be the first woman to fly to space. Valentina’s achievement inspired millions of young girls and women all over the world, reinforcing the belief that personality not gender is what matters when it comes to becoming your best possible self.
3.    Annie Edson Taylor: The First Person To Survive A Trip Over Niagara Falls In A Barrel
Annie came into the world on October 24, 1838, in Auburn, New York. She grew to become a teacher. Although she lived a comfortable childhood, her adult life was not quite as quiet. After a short marriage that ended when her husband, David Taylor, was killed in the Civil War – and included the loss of their only child in infancy – Taylor began a long and unsettled period of wandering. She traveled around the country and even as far away as Mexico City, teaching here and there but never finding the life she wanted. 

Believing she’d be able to earn fame and fortune, Taylor decided to have herself placed in a padded pickle barrel and released into Niagara Falls. On October 24, 1901, several thousand people turned out to see Taylor face the approximately 167-foot-high falls. She was secured inside the barrel with some cushioning, and set adrift. She made it over the falls successfully, with only minor cuts and bruises, making her the first person, and the first woman, to successfully ride the falls in a barrel. The courageous attempt proves that sometimes choosing the less obvious solution may not earn you a living but will certainly find you a place in history.

4.    Louise Arner Boyd: The First Woman To Reach The North Pole
Louise was born into wealth but she did not want a life of a princess. She instead chose to use her inheritance to explore the Arctic regions. When her parents died in 1920, Louise made the decision to embark on her first Arctic exploration. She spent time filming and photographing the environment of the Arctic. This adventurous woman knew no fear at all. When one fellow explorer – famed Antarctic explorer Roald Amundsen, who had disappeared while aiding a downed Italian airship, she was ready to assist in the hunt. Despite all the danger she flew in ten thousand miles in the search. 

Amundsen was never found but for her efforts, Boyd became the first non-Norwegian woman to be awarded the Chevalier Cross of the Order of Saint Olav. Louise still followed her dreams. She led five expeditions in Greenland, for which she was honored by the Geographical Society, and an area of Greenland was named Louise Boyd Land in her honor. Boyd was the first woman to reach the North Pole, in the relative comfort of an airplane, in 1955. She proved that following your dream often means leaving the comfort zone – even the comforts of one’s wealthy life.
5.    Helen Thayer: The First Woman To Walk Across The Sahara
Helen was born in New Zealand on a 10,000-acre sheep and cattle ranch outside Auckland, which her parents operated. They were uninterested in the more constricted gender roles of the times and helped Helen believe she could achieve anything regardless of her gender.  So she became a woman of firsts; she climbed her first mountain at the age of 9 and went on to become the first woman to travel alone to any of the world's Poles, trekking to the Magnetic North Pole without dog sled or snowmobile. 

She was the first non-Indian woman to kayak 2,200 miles off the Amazon River and the first woman to walk across the Sahara, from Morocco to the Nile. She even walked 1,600 miles across the Gobi Desert at age sixty-three and lived in an arctic wolf den for a year with her husband. But what shines through is that with every step she has took she inspires us to embrace integrity, demonstrate courage, and assume responsibility for our actions.

In a similar vein, we have taken a moment to beam the flashlight inwards to the women making it happen at Jovago Nigeria, for we can only recognize greatness in others, when we identify and celebrate the greatness in ourselves. these women have distinguished themselves in service, lending credence to the saying that ‘what a man can do, a woman can do much better’.
 6. Alexandrial Allen: Head of Sales, Jovago Nigeria
"Impossible is not a word in my dictionary. Whenever I am faced with new challenges, my mantra always is 'I can and I will'. Not having immediate solutions to problems doesn't deter me from finding one... It may take a while but solving it I will.”
7. Claire Staal: Head of Business Development, Jovago Nigeria
"’Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it’. We made it already to become number 1 of Africa, but we have a long way to go to become number 1 of the world. The climb to get to that position is the part you need to enjoy and that is your biggest learning process. The higher you get to your goal, the more ready you are to live on the top of the mountain.”

 8. Jumai Niagwan: Head of Content, Jovago Nigeria
“Working at Jovago has been an interesting journey. For me, Jovago has been my professional oyster; I was given a real shot at contributing to the development of a start-up and it has been a professional and personal push towards the right direction. When Jovago makes a record, I look for myself in the large picture and I am happy I contributed to her success; no matter how small.

Business School taught me how theories and models make a business work, Jovago taught me how people and hard-work make a business work- I think the latter is more valuable. ‘There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard-work, and learning from failure’ Colin Powell.”

 9. Omolara Adagunodo: Head of Customer Service, Jovago Nigeria

“Working in Customer Service with puts me in a position where I’m able to do what I love doing the most: proferring solutions and meeting needs. It excites me to be a part of this awesome team that provides equal opportunities for all professionals.”

10. Chinelo Ngene: Head of Marketing & Public Relations, Jovago Nigeria
“For me, making it happen at Jovago does not necessarily mean moving mountains. Waking up each day, taking little extra steps to move the business forward, identifying opportunities - not only in partnerships but also in people - and nurturing these, eventually all culminate in setting the business apart from others in the industry.

I have realised that whatever women do, they must do it twice as good as men to be thought half as good and this is one of the key factors that drives me. Always keep in mind that you can do good work, or you can do great work. The difference lies in being passionate about what you do.”

These 10 brave women shaped their lives and continue to inspire. Every day, over three and a half billion women in the world shape their lives exploring the paths fate lays before them. This collection of inspirational portraits of women is a pretty subjective one. There is no such selection that would prove just. One such would be an impossible quest. Let’s celebrate the lives of those ten amazing human beings and every other woman, too.

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