This year’s trek was unusual in that it was the first time a women’s team had been included and the first such project run in Australia, perhaps the world. The decision was one carefully considered by the board and in the end it became obvious having gained the responses from a number of women that it was overdue and necessary.

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Overdue, because it was inequitable that they had been excluded to date; and necessary because it appeared that women’s needs are not considered different but lumped in with the male solutions when a separate approach was required.

One of the very useful outcomes from the male treks has been the strength of the relationships formed between trekkers. In some ways this is a side benefit from the trek, and although it was forecast to occur to some degree, the very useful and practical value of these friendships should not be underestimated. Predictably that would, and did happen among the women. However it was surprising to find that prior to the trek, many of the women lived a lonely life with few friends to share personal concerns. This was a contradiction to some conventional views regarding female habits, but on reflection it is reinforcement that women tend to “suck it up” and get on with things in spite of.

What additional aspects were necessary to cater for a female team? Should presentations be different, would the approach which had been used for the men work, could they swag it in the bush as the males had done, would the program content require review, what gender should the primary facilitators be, could it be funded and so on? These were some of the topics considered during the planning phase.

Did we get it right? Time will tell but initial assessments indicate it would seem so.