To celebrate International Women’s Day, Exodus Travels has launched its Mountain Lioness Scholarship to support women in becoming porters and guides in the traditionally male-dominated workforce of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Mountain Lioness Scholarship, which is a new chapter of the company’s ongoing initiative the Kilimanjaro Porter project, aims to assist 30 Tanzanian women in achieving their professional goals of becoming porters and guides in Kilimanjaro National Park. The scholarship will sponsor 10 local women per year for the next three years on a three-week-long course.
During the course, students will obtain the qualifications and skills necessary to seek employment as professional guides. The scholarship was created in partnership with the Robertson Outdoor Bursary, African Walking Company and Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project.
Lucia “the Lioness” Kiyoi, one of Kilimanjaro’s first women porters, inspired the Mountain Lioness Scholarship’s name. According to Kiyoi, since women began stepping into porter and guide jobs which were originally reserved for men, she’s seen an increase in women’s confidence when it comes to claiming space in the workforce. “A lot of women are applying for the jobs,” said Kiyoi.
This is a major shift, as women in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania are not typically encouraged or permitted to work as porters or guides. While the perception of women working on the mountain is changing, there is still a long way to go.
The goal of the Mountain Lioness Scholarship is to assist in removing some barriers – financial and otherwise – that prevent women from entering the field.
“Empowering women by giving them the tools and qualifications they need to carve out a place for themselves in a male-dominated field is a special thing to be a part of,” said Exodus Travels’ Robin Brooks. “Collaborating in this way with local women in one of Exodus’ favourite destinations is such a great example of how travel can give back and improve life for the people we meet, places we visit, and planet we explore.”
Eligible recipients will be announced in July 2020, and training will begin in October 2020. During the three-week course, students will participate in lectures and practical training which cover topics such as: ethical guiding, mountain ecology, introduction to tourism and protected areas, emergency care, first aid, wilderness rescue and tour guiding techniques. Upon completion of the course, students will obtain a license which is required to guide on Mount Kilimanjaro.