Up to 60 percent of families in Tajikistan rely on remittances by relatives working as migrant laborers in the Russian Federation.  Meanwhile, eco-tourism is a potential source of income for the mountainous country.  Tajikistan has been trying to boost tourism, introducing academic tourism courses in local universities in 2012 but with little focus on outdoor skills.

Christine Oriol, a French development worker, noticed the lack of experienced trekking guides while working on a trekking guidebook for the region and started a training course.

She has taught a group of young Tajik women crucial outdoor skills, like map reading, pitching tents, getting the stoves going and shouldering heavy backpacks to survive a week out in the Pamir Mountains.

The non-profit organization Women Rockin' Pamirs is a great initiative that aims to train Pamiri women to become a trekking guide in their home mountains, the Tajik Pamirs.

In May, they launched a new website full of information about the project.  They have also started advertising two exciting new trekking expeditions, guided exclusively by female Pamiri guides who have completed their training.  Some of them have already worked on high profile adventures, such as guiding National Geographic explorer Paul Salopek on his Tajikistan stretch of the Out of Eden walk.

WRIP aims to support any activity favoring the emancipation and empowerment of women, through, among other things, exploration, travel and training initiatives in mountain-related professions: primarily in trekking, but also in other trades (mountaineering, climbing, ski touring, cycling and so forth).

Indirectly, the organization is working towards the development of an international framework for mountain professions and the advancement of mountain culture.

This year, for the first time, Women Rockin’ Pamirs and its local partner Zanon dar Kuhhoi Pomir organized a one-week summer camp for teenage girls originating from Khorog.  With the help of French and Tajik volunteering mountain guide, geologist and group leaders, 11 teenage girls had the unique opportunity to discover and experience “wild life” in the Pamirs.  Although most of them have known the mountains as they grew up in the Pamirs, most of them were not familiar with trekking/camping experiences (camping, building a fire, etc.), nor technical knowledge of the wildlife (fauna & flora, geology, etc.).