BAR HARBOR — The shepherd’s daughter who shaped her own fate and brought opportunities to scores of women in her Himalayan village, Thinlas Chorol, will speak at a special College of the Atlantic Human Ecology Forum in the McCormick Lecture Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 4:10 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public.
Raised in the village of Takmachik in Ladakh, India, Chorol grew up alongside the peaks of the Himalayan mountains. Chorol was devoted to having a career as a trekking guide but quickly met challenges and opposition in the male-dominated industry. Undeterred, she became a credentialed guide through the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and the National Outdoor Leadership School before returning to her home mountains and, in 2009, founding the Ladakhi Women Travel Company.
Chorol was named “Person of the Year” in 2015 by the Indian news organization The Weekend Leader and was featured prominently in the international documentary “Women of the Mountain: Six Women That Have Risen above.” She also has continued to spend time in her beloved wilderness, becoming the only woman from India to complete a 135-mile foot race through the Himalayas that, at times, exceed 18,000 feet in elevation. Chorol’s greatest achievement, she said, is her 2012 cofounding of the Ladakhi Women’s Welfare Network, where she currently serves as president and works to empower women and girls from all walks of life.
The network strives to help as many people as possible by counseling victims of sexual assault and educating them on their legal rights so they can better navigate a gender-biased social system, Chorol said. The organization is currently planning a women’s shelter and an ambitious learning center which will focus on social justice issues for women. They are eager to reach out to communities around the world in order to spread ideas use the strength of teamwork, she said.
The Human Ecology Forum is a free, weekly speaker series based on the work of the academic community, which also draws on artists, poets, and political and religious leaders from around the world. Members of the public are invited to attend.