For many women in the United States and in countries around the world, the past few months have been highlighted with women marching and standing strong together. With the recent celebration of International Women’s Day, I felt the urge to share my own inspiration of women in the outdoors.
You don’t need to look far to see the women out there now, getting down and dirty by backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, and trail running. There are all the women who fought for the U.S. Mountain Running Championships to have equal race distances for both men and women, or organizations like Women’s Wilderness and Trail Sisters, both located in Boulder, CO, who are creating a sisterhood of powerful women reclaiming our natural place in the wild. Not to mention the bad-ass college women, who are at the forefront of outdoor activities, actually surpassing men in outdoor activities in the 18-24 age range. While there is still a discrepancy between men and women in the wild across the board, the last decade has shown a movement of women getting outside. We may have grown up watching our brothers go on camping trips with dads, told not get dirty and that the wild is not safe for women, but we no longer believe the lies that a woman’s place is inside. Instead, we see a woman’s place as on top of the mountain, on the side of a rock wall, or under the stars.
How did this change come about? I’m sure books like A Silent Spring, Wild, and Becoming Odyssa have helped light a spark for many women and that athletes like ultra-runner Ann Trason, climber Lynn Hill, and mountaineer Lhakpa Sherpa have fueled the fire, but I also think we’ve heard the call of Mother Nature.
I would like to slightly elongate Helen Reddy’s famous lyric “I am woman, hear me roar” to encompass all of our rights: I am woman, hear me roar…or chirp, or growl, or neigh or howl. As women of the wild, we have a right to roar with power, to chirp love songs as the sun rises, to growl when our boundaries are crossed, to neigh with freedom, to howl with strength and pleasure at the moon. We harness all of these energies to use and share at our will.
Who will you share this power with? As college women, we are both the current and future change-makers of the world. My guess is that you have friends who haven’t yet found their roar. But they have you.
Harness your inner strength that you’ve found outside are share that passion with those around you. Together, let us roar, chirp, growl, neigh, and howl.