Traditionally, many regions of the Arab world abide by very strict gender rules. Men act one way and women act another. Many in the Western world feel these separations archaic and even cruel. Well, 27-year-old Elham Al-Qasimi is proving that major strides are being made for women in the Arab world.
Elham is attempting to become the first Arab woman to cross-country ski trek to the North Pole. She was airlifted today to an ice station that floats somewhere between 88 and 89 degrees latitude, and began skiing toward the 90 degree mark.
Her journey comes with its share of criticism. Many in her world feel it not right for a woman to attempt such a feat. However, the critiques have not been nearly as prevalent as she thought. This a good and positive sign for gender reform in the Middle East. “For every 200 positive messages I’ve received saying: this is amazing or you’ve inspired me to do something that I dreamt about but didn’t think I could, there is probably one that will say: I don’t understand why you are doing this; you are a woman,” said Elham Al-Qasimi. “So I think it’s a pretty good record.
“One thing I’ve said in the past about my message to [Arab] women is that it’s one woman at a time,” she continued. “It’s not a movement. It’s just each woman being herself in whatever area or sphere she feels she excels in. One person at a time, I think, is the best way to move forward because then it’s not a thing that’s staged, it’s just literally history unfolding.”
She will attempt to complete the 100 nautical mile trip in 11 days. She is doing it unsupported and unassisted, although she is traveling with a guide.