Twin Sisters Climb The Seven Summits and Beyond for Gender Equality

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Twin Sisters Climb The Seven Summits and Beyond for Gender Equality

Nungshi and Tashi Malik, a.k.a. The Everest Twins, continue to build an impressive resume of firsts

Despite having the world’s largest democracy, India remains one of the worst places to live as a female. TrustLaw, a legal news service run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, polled 370 gender specialists in 2012 and deemed India the worst G20 country for women.

In India, women and girls continue to be sold as possessions, married by arrangement as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and forced into domestic labor. Nungshi and Tashi Malik, 26-year-old twins, aim to draw awareness to these travesties and promote change through their Nungshi Tashi Foundation, with its empowerment mission to provide “Adventure of the Girls, for the Girls, by the Girls.”

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Known as the “Everest Twins,” Nungshi and Tashi Malik draw international attention through adventurous conquests around the globe. Their impressive list of feats includes:

  • 2013: First twin sisters to summit Mount Everest
  • 2014: First siblings and twins, youngest South Asians and first Indian women to complete the Seven Summits (the highest peaks on each continent) on the first attempt
  • 2015: First siblings, twins and South Asians to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (Seven Summits plus North and South Poles)
  • First South Asians, twins, siblings and youngest persons to complete the Explorers Grand Slam and Three Pole Challenge (North and South poles plus the summit of Everest)
  • First twins, youngest persons and fastest South Asians to reach both poles on skis (less than four months, 23 years of age)

This impressive list of accomplishments and world records has helped them earn India’s highest adventure honor, the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award in 2015 and the Leif Erikson Young Explorer Award, bestowed by the President of Iceland, in 2016.

Nungshi and Tashi Malik’s high-profile expeditions also serve to inspire women and girls to dream big and surmount the challenges that they may face daily. The twins wish to empower these women and girls through self-awareness, leadership and outdoor livelihoods provided by outdoor programs parlayed by their foundation.

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Their outdoor leadership program not only encourages the growth of intrinsic characteristics and qualities that benefit life in general but also take advantage of the economic opportunity for women presented by the growing adventure tourism industry in the Himalayan states. Professional outdoor leadership instructors and guides utilize a “living laboratory” format; students reside for a full academic year in a community with their instructors for an inclusive and deep learning and growing experience. The curriculum spans a wide range of outdoor, interpersonal and leadership skills that prepare the students for work across several outdoor adventure disciplines such as rock climbing, mountaineering, and paddling or life as a confident adventurer and leader.

I met the Malik twins at an event organized during the 2017 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market by one of their sponsors, Mountain Hardwear. They were approachable, down to earth and humble when describing both their far-flung adventures and humanitarian efforts closer to home. I didn’t sense a speck of narcissism that I expect and have witnessed in young athletes who are often in the spotlight and showered with adoration. I was awestruck by the combination of their athletic prowess, drive to help others and wholesome character. I heard many amazing stories about the people they encountered along the way, but their own story and ongoing mission were the most inspiring and heartwarming for me as they pursue their next objective, K2, and their continued pursuit of advancing women and girls in India.