DARE-In Iceland:
A Land Shaped by Woman

Photo: Andres Beregovich

The two snowboard professionals Aline Bock/GER and Anne-Flore Marxer/SUI are on their way to Iceland to get to know the country combining it with their passion for Snowboarding and Surfing  during the next six weeks. Additionally they will meet strong women along the way to learn more about Iceland’s leadership role when it comes to gender equality and women’s rights. Read here what two of the most inspiring Freeride queens have to say about their trip:

Iceland has always been high on our adventure list. We’ve long wanted to immerse ourselves in its otherworldly landscape. We’ve ached to chase the snow and swell around the island. To carve fresh lines in snowy spines while staring at the blue sea below; to ride beautifully shaped waves to a backdrop of jagged white peaks. We even dreamed of doing them both in the same place on the same day.

Photo by Andres Beregovich

But as is often the case, life got in the way. Then this year, as gender inequality pushed its way to the top of the news cycle in ever-scarier and more pressing ways, our need to experience Iceland first-hand became too intense to ignore. The pull of the mountains and the sea remained the same of course but what was drawing us to this unique sea-faring nation at this moment in time was the progressive, feminist culture that underpinned it all.

Photo by: Andres Beregovich / Aline Bock by DanielAhlgren.

Iceland has a long and distinguished history when it comes to gender equality and women’s rights, both in the workplace and at home. On October 24th 1975 a staggering 90 per cent of the female labour force went on strike to prove to the rest of the country how vital their contribution to the workplace was. It’s no coincidence that five years later they elected the first female president in the world. A single mother, who was hugely popular and re-elected for four terms, holding the role for a historic 16 years.

For the last nine years Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s index for gender equality, thanks to its world-leading policies including teaching pre-school girls how to be more assertive. There really is a fascinating and wholly admirable national mind-set when it comes to gender equality in the country.

Photo by Andres Beregovich.

As professional snowboarders who’ve fought hard for gender parity in a male-dominated sport throughout our careers, we wanted to dig deeper into this amazing mentality while combining it with our love of adventure. So on International Women’s Day we want to announce that we’re going to Iceland in a camper van for six weeks to snowboard, surf, and camp amid this magical landscape. The sun, the snow, the wind and the waves will guide us, and we will meet some of the incredible outdoors-loving women who live there along the way.

We’ll go splitboarding with Heida Birgisdottir, Iceland’s first female surfer, one of its first female snowboarders, and the founder of iconic women’s board sports brand Nikita. We’ll hook up with an all-women hiking crew to hear how empowering their group adventures have been and experience a mountain rescue programme designed specifically for schoolgirls.

Photo by Andres Beregovich.

While we’re there we’ll be making a movie about our experience. We will show how magical and ethereal Iceland is and how special it feels to snowboard and surf here. We’ll stop and pause amongst this amazing nature to tell a different story in a fresh and more feminine way. We want to bask in the positive vibes of the Icelandic women’s movement and inspire to embrace a new mind-set to a different kind of adventure. We will experience a land shaped by women.

Photo by Eleonora Raggi

Update #1: We are now two weeks into our #vanlife mission to snowboard and surf our way around Iceland, while meeting some of this progressive country’s most inspiring women along the way.

The adventure began the second we drove off the ferry. Recent heavy snowfall caused our line of camper vans to get stuck on the first mountain pass leading away from the port. Everyone was slipping and sliding everywhere. One van even ended up in the ditch. “We’ve got this” and minutes later we drove off with big smiles on our faces, while the rest of the van owners could only look on in wonder.

Photo by Eleonora Raggi

We spent our first night parked up by the beach, and drove on to the Icelandic capital the next day. There we met Katrin Oddsdottir, an amazing woman, human rights lawyer and political activist, who was part of a small team that drafted Iceland’s new constitution. She told us how it stood for all people, in a progressive open approach with particular provision for women’s issues, and that nature was afforded its own rights. She described how they’d harnessed social media for good by inviting all Icelandic people into the process of writing their own constitution.

She is the most incredible person to meet. Her mother had founded the Women’s Alliance in 1983, getting women’s issues on the political agenda in Iceland. We found Katrin Oddsdottir and her mother’s story massively inspiring, and to have experienced it on our first full day felt very empowering. It gave us great impetus to dig deeper into Iceland’s feminist mindset.

Photo by EleonoraRaggi, Anne Flore Marxer, Kata, AlineBock.

Our next meeting was with Vilborg Arna Gissuraardottir. She is a true modern hero here, as she was the first Icelandic woman to climb Everest and reach the South Pole; everyone in the country knows her name. She set up her own agency to train and inspire other women to take on these kind of expeditions, as she knows how significant realizing such dreams can be. She shared some brilliant motivational tips with us, which helped her during tough times in Antarctica.

We have not just loved our journey through this land shaped by women – we’ve thrived here and learnt so much too.

Stay tuned for more updates on this amazing journey through Iceland!

Photo by Eleonora Raggi
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