This is the story of Danma, a nomadic Tibetan woman born to a herding yak family, who grew up in a small village on the edge of the Himalayan Plateau.
The remote wilderness of the snowy Himalayan mountains is often associated with an array of medicinal plants; pristine lakes and herds of yaks. It is home to sacred traditions, rituals and cultural practices. But what is rarely talked about is the deeply ingrained patriarchal nature of Tibetan society, where gender roles are firmly defined.
Growing up, the only future Danma could feasibly see for herself involved bearing children, herding livestock, fetching water and collecting wood for fuel. She observed first hand the realities of gender inequality, where women took on the most menial yet difficult of tasks.
But Danma’s ambitions for education, independence and self empowerment defied the constraints of her community. At 19 years old, she led a community project that brought running water to her village for the first time. After that, she applied for international funding to run a solar panel project to bring new energy resources to her village - and she got it.
She was granted a scholarship by the University of Technology and completed a Bachelor in Public Communications (Social Inquiry). She’s currently completing a Master of Social Work at the University of Sydney.
In 2015, Danma founded Maya Mountain, a social enterprise aimed at equipping village women with skills and opportunities to become self sufficient. Maya Mountain produces 100% natural soap, lovingly handcrafted by the ‘Tibetan Soap Ladies’ and is made from local yak milk. Her journey - which stretches from the mountains of Tibet to the shores of Australia; and how her social enterprise plans to break down traditional gender barriers to empower women.