Unseen women. Unseen pollution. Unseen disease. These are the critical issues that inspired Emily Penn, an oceans advocate, skipper and artist, and Lucy Gilliam, an Environmental Scientist, to co-found eXXpedition in 2014. This series of scientific research missions is focused on shining a giant spotlight on the impact plastics and other pollutants in the world’s oceans have on both the ecosystem and human health, with each voyage being piloted by an all-female crew. The current mission – Round Britain – has a team of 14 intrepid women, of varying ages, backgrounds and fields of expertise, circumnavigating the UK. During each expedition, the women on board sample the ocean for plastics, microplastics, and other pollutants – chemicals, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens – that can potentially cause disease. They supply their samples to scientists and researchers around the world who are investigating the impact of toxic and plastic pollutants on the environment and all of us. Their aim is to “engage women in scientific narratives relating to the consumer choices they make, and their long-term health impacts.” Just some awesome women saving mother Earth, no big deal. (We lied, it’s a Big Deal). Well done ladies!
At 16 years old, Australian explorer Jade Hameister is the youngest person to ever complete the polar hat-trick by reaching the North and South Poles and crossing Greenland, but even she has to deal with loudmouth critics who have opined that her place is in the kitchen. In 2016, after the then-14-year-old become the youngest person to ski to the North Pole from outside the last degree of latitude (a distance of about 60 miles), she gave a TEDx talk in Melbourne in which she encouraged young women to embrace an adventurous mindset, and to resist societal pressures that discourage them from their ambitions. Male YouTube commenters took offense to Hameister’s message, as users flooded the page with the phrase, “Make me a sandwich.” After Hameister’s recent record-setting descent to the South Pole, the teenager offered a biting response to her critics with a Facebook post in which she posed alongside the Ceremonial South Pole flags while carrying a sandwich on a plate. “I skied back to the Pole again … to take this photo for all those men who commented ‘Make me a sandwich’ on my TEDX Talk,” she wrote. “I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600km to the South Pole and you can eat it xx.”
When firefighter Andréa Speranza founded Camp Courage 11 years ago, she couldn’t have imagined the impact her initiative would have on the lives of the girls it would touch. The extensive eight-day camp is designed to introduce young women between the ages of 15 and 19 to all three emergency services. The hope is some are inspired enough to consider pursuing careers in policing, paramedicine or firefighting. “When we would go to school events and try to promote firefighting as a career, everybody thought I was administrative staff. Nobody thought I was a firefighter,” Speranza recalled. Speranza said there is no camp in the world like Camp Courage, offering hands-on experience of all three emergency services. She’s currently working towards a long-term goal of developing a national program. “The whole idea is to empower these young ladies and allow them to physically feel the demands placed on a police officer, a firefighter, a paramedic. So we introduce them to the best of all three trades,” she said. Since 2006, 60 young women who participated in the camp have gone on to pursue careers in emergency services. Speranza said that’s 33 per cent of the camp’s graduates.
Have a positive week,
Love Neon Moon x
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