Trip to Antarctica: 3 India-Born Women on Battling Climate Change

An ecologist, an astronomer & a practicing doctor – meet the Indian-origin women on a voyage to Antarctica.

3 min read

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

An ecologist, an astronomer and a practicing medicinal doctor – meet the Indian-origin women who undertook a week-long voyage to Antarctica in December 2019, to understand and influence the decisions that shape the future of our plant.

With 100 other women of the STEMM collective from across the world, the three women undertook the trip aimed to empower and motivate women to ‘take their place’ in the main narrative on sustainability and climate crisis.


What Made Them Undertake The Voyage

For ecologist and a public health researcher Aparna Lal, taking part in the voyage was important because she believed that there was need for “greater diversity and inclusion of voices”.

“I want to be invited not just to the table when the decisions are being made but I also want my voice to influence the nature and decision of the climate crisis conversation.”
Aparna Lal

A resident of Canberra, Lal is a senior lecturer in Australian National University.


The urge to make a change, closer to home, brought Kerala-born astronomer Mita Brier to join the voyage. A resident of New Zealand now, Brier had to manage a full-time job, her two young boys, all while trying to raise money to be a part of the voyage.

“I have always had an urge to make a difference in the world. And for a good amount of my life I was doing that by adding knowledge about humanity and our place in it. As I have become older, I have two young boys, the goal has changed more to making a difference, closer to home and an impact now.”
Mita Brier

Why Antarctica

The voyage to Antarctica was important, the astronomer says, because the impact of melting ice in that region will be felt across the world.

“The global ocean currents in Antarctica drive how those across the world work. The impact of melting and warming here and the effects will be felt all around the world,” she says.


‘Important for Women to Take Their Place’

Dr Pallavi Prathivadi was born in Bengaluru and grew up in Melbourne. A citizen of both India and Australia, for Prathivadi, the voyage was all about the STEMM women taking their “rightful place” in shaping the climate crisis decisions.

“In Indian culture, sometimes we still value an ideal or successful leader as a male. I know for sure that isn’t true. What I am really passionate about is improving women leadership and that doesn’t neccessarily mean we need to change to a male-dominant style. We need to maximise what it takes to be a woman and take that to incredible leadership positions, in all fields.”

And, who better than women to influence decisions that impact women.

“Women in poverty are disproportionately affected by issued of climate crisis – especially those concerning food scarcity,” adds Brier.

“Those who are in positions of power, those who have the chance to be educated, the chance to experience life to the fullest, should be giving back to the communities and the backgrounds we have come from.”
Mita Brier

Key Takeaway from Antarctica

Prathivadi warns that the biggest threat of climate crisis is its impact on health.

“I want to pass on the message that climate crisis is also the biggest threat to human health. So, if you care about the health of your families – your children and elderly parents then you actually have to care about the climate crisis.”
Dr Pallavi Prathivadi

For ecologist Lal, the voyage taught her that being vulnerable is a part of being a strong woman, a takeaway that would help her with the larger picture of taking decisions.

“I have always thought of my self as strong and independent. But I have never realised that being vulnerable is a part of that. And being in Antartica, among this amazing scenery, has taught me that being strong and vulnerable can be two sides of the same coin.”

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Topics:  antarctica   Climate Crisis 

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