International Women’s Day 2012 – Female Travel Pioneers
Today is International Women’s Day. Celebration of the day goes back to the early 1900s. A year after 15,000 women marched for change in working hours, pay and voting rights, a National Women’s Day was celebrated on 28 February. The idea of making it an international celebration was proposed by Clara Zetkin in Germany in 1910 and in 1913 it was agreed that the day should be March 8.
In many countries the day is not just an observance but an official holiday, where women are honored and receive gifts. To do our bit for International Women’s Day, here are some female travelers and explorers who broke a lot of boundaries both for women and in exploration. Have you heard of all of them?
- Gertrude Bell was a spy, linguist, writer and archeologist who was also one of the first solo female travelers in the Arabian desert. Here’s an excerpt of her work.
- Violet Cressy-Marcks traveled through South America alone in 1929. She was already an experienced traveler by then having made the trek from the Cape to Cairo and sledded to Murmansk.
- Isabel Grandmaison y Bruno Godin was the first woman to cross South America, starting her trip in 1770.
- Constance Gordon Cumming traveled alone in Fiji and other parts of the world.
- Mary Kingsley traveled through West Africa studying animals and plants and collecting speciments.
- Lucy Walker was the first woman to climb the Matterhorn in 1871 (and she did it despite having to wear long skirts).
- Daisy Mae Bates chronicled the lives and traditions of the Aboriginals of Australia, living among them from 1902 to 1945.
- Mary Seacole worked in the Crimean War, a long way from her Jamaican homeland. Despite the prejudices she faced she was committed to healing.
- Starting in 1924, Louise Boyd led 7 Arctic expeditions to map the Greenland coast. While there she discovered the undersea mountain range that is named after her.
- Did you know that Anne Morrow-Lindbergh was Charles Lindbergh’s co-pilot on a 5 month trip across the Atlantic?
- Annie Smith Peck was a mountain climber who set the record for making the highest climb in the Americas (Mount Huascaran,Peru – 21,812 feet) when she was 58.
- Martha Munger Black explored and lectured on the Yukon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
More Information on Female Explorers
These are just a few of the women who have explored the world, many of them little known. If you want to find out more, check out these resources:
- How High Can We Climb?
- Women Explorers – Distinguished Women
- Women Explorers – Enchanted Learning
- Female Explorers
Image: Steve Snodgrass