It’s that time of year again: National Geographic Adventure has nominated ten individuals to stand in the running for 2013 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. This year in particular, we’re incredibly proud to announce that the outstanding Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain is one of the Adventurer of the Year nominees — and you can vote for her now!
M2M, which Shannon founded in 2006, “believes in the power of voice as a catalyst for social action,” and has touched the lives of many since its inception. In its latest project, Streets of Afghanistan, M2M utilizes the power of photography as the voice of change.
In 2009, Shannon became the first woman to bike in Afghanistan, challenging societal norms and gender perceptions in that part of the world. In general, Shannon’s work has seriously highlighted the significance of perpetuating equality for women and girls in conflict regions, and will continue to impact generations to come.
For good reason, Shannon is nominated as Humanitarian of the year. Via Nat Geo Adventure:
The 38-year-old has braved some of the most violent periods in Afghanistan—a country considered by many humanitarian agencies to be the worst place in the world to be a woman—to work on women’s education and health. She fostered midwife training to combat infant and maternal mortality in the Panjshir Province. In Kabul and Kandahar, she helped develop reading programs for the daughters of women in prisons, some of whom were jailed for adultery after they were raped or for escaping arranged marriages.
She has used her bicycle as an icebreaker with village elders in remote mountain villages, and in a particularly bold fundraising act, she’s mountain biked 140 miles across the Panjshir Valley. In Afghanistan, women cannot ride bikes because of laws and social customs, a fact that Galpin believes has hindered women’s education by preventing them from being able to independently travel to school. As a foreign woman, Galpin was able to cross this boundary and turn it into a conversation starter.
Women’s rights are personal for Galpin. At 19, she survived being raped and knifed while coming home from work in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“I couldn’t think of anything worse beyond what had happened than being labeled a victim,” says Galpin. “I was petrified that I would be viewed that way and would have to wear that label for the rest of my life.”
Want to vote for Shannon Galpin? Go here to do so through mid-January.