As high-level World Food Programme supporters go, you can’t get higher than the Cholitas Escaladoras Maya – a group of women mountaineers in Bolivia who scale peaks in their traditional attire, flying the flag for the Indigenous Aymara people (and now, for WFP).
Recently appointed as UN high-level supporters, they will be sharing messages of Indigenous women’s empowerment, promoting the production and consumption of ancestral foods – and providing first-hand accounts of how climate-change is changing the landscape in the altiplano, or highlands, whose mountains are sacred to them.
“We plan to go to the communities, share our experiences and talk about the importance of our food, so that young people learn to value and understand the properties of our products,” says Ana Lia (Lita), president of the Cholitas.
Lita started climbing at a young age – both as a woman and a member of an ethnic group that continues to face discrimination, she is breaking barriers.
Her mother, Dora, is a veteran climber who started her alpine career as a mountain cook preparing ancestral foods at high altitudes for tourists climbing with her husband, who is a guide.
In looking back at 2022, perhaps the world can take inspiration from the Cholitas Escaladoras Maya.
For just as they’ve overcome immense odds to spotlight the struggles of the Aymara women and people, the world has its own mountain to climb in responding to climate change.