March 8th is International Women’s Day in Mongolia and around the world. The focus of the 2020 campaign is #EachforEqual – ‘collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world when we actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.’
But, how does International Women’s Day in Mongolia relate to Eternal Landscapes? Those of you who have travelled with us know that we employ only Mongolian female trip assistants – Mongolian women working in tourism as a way of improving their lives, to support their family and for the independence it brings. We also work countrywide with a network of families that we form long-term local community partnerships with.
Last year, I created a blog post focusing on our trip assistants asking them what did they most want for women in Mongolia and what did they most want for themselves as a woman in Mongolia. For, International Women’s Day 2020 in Mongolia, I asked two of the rural families we work with what do they most want for the future of their daughters and/or granddaughters and what difficulties or challenges do they think women in Mongolia face.
The Galbadrakh Family
The Galbadrakh family are a young family – yak herders – that make their home in the district of Tsenkher in the Khangai Mountains. Galdbadrakh and his wife Bor are members of the Cooperative Ar Arvijin Delgerekh – a NGO that works solely with yak herders in Arkhangai Province in the central heartland of Mongolia helping them to produce spun yak down thus helping to sustain and improve the livelihoods of the member herders as it allows them to diversify and increase their income (the herders being paid the full value of their harvest for a higher price than the local market).
We asked Galbadrakh and Bor what do they most want for the future of their daughters and their answer was ‘to educate their girls to the best of their ability, for them to be independent, but for them to keep a connection to their traditions and culture.’
The Tomorbat Family
At Ulaan Tsutgalan – the Orkhon Waterfall in Ovorkhangai Province – we work with Tomorbat and his wife Namjilmaa. They used to lead our longer adventurous style treks but, as Tomorbat and Namjilmaa get older and less mobile, we wanted to continue working with them. So together with Tomorbat and Namjilmaa, we created our ‘ger to ger’ walk. This simple concept just takes up a morning or an afternoon where our guests spend time with Tomorbat or Namjilmaa meeting local herding families in the area. We allow them to decide the route and what families our guests visit and although it is a relaxed walk it provides a different more local perspective on Mongolia. It’s a simple enough concept but as well as providing our guests with a local travel experience in Mongolia it means we can continue to work with Tomorbat and Namjilmaa and support them as well as tapping into their wealth of local knowledge.
We asked Namjilmaa what did she most want for the future of her daughters and granddaughters and her answer was ‘find a good secure job opportunity, marry a good man, help others and strive for one’s own self.’