Forever’s newest brand ambassadors are making history and paving the way for a new generation of female leaders. For some people, the path to achieving their dreams is like finding a new way up the jagged face of a mountain. From the ground, it looks impossible. But it only takes one person to dig their spikes into the ice and walk the razor’s edge of a treacherous ridgeline to show the world that there’s more than one path to the top. Well, sometimes it takes two.
Twin sisters Tashi and Nungshi Malik dreamed of climbing actual mountains from childhood. They knew that one day they would climb Everest, and were just 21 years old when they became the first female twins to reach the 29,032-foot summit of the highest mountain on Earth. As women from India, their path to the top was harder than most. Not because of anything the mountain would throw their way, but because of outdated notions about what women could achieve or where they belong.
Growing up, Nungshi and Tashi weren’t shy about their ambitions, but had to face elements of their society that were adamant that the mountains were no place for women. Sometimes, the pushbacks came from the people they were closest to. “I think the real challenge came from within the home and family,” Tashi remembers. “A lot of our relatives were very concerned, including our mother. When you have two daughters wanting to pursue a sport that is obviously risky, people will try to discourage you.” The sisters were told they wouldn’t be able to carry the weight of their gear up the mountain, and would end up losing limbs to frostbite. Even if people didn’t come right out and say it, there was an undertone to all those conversations – girls don’t belong on Everest. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage,” Nungshi says. “The courage to cross the barriers in our minds, to cross the mountains in our hearts”.
But as Tashi likes to say, mountains don’t discriminate based on gender. The only force that could keep them from achieving their goal was the mountain itself. Without an outpouring of support from their friends and family, Nungshi and Tashi had to take charge of their own training and somehow find a way to raise enough money to make their dream expedition possible. That’s no small feat for two young women searching for support in a sport that for too long had been considered a man’s game – but they made it happen. On 19th May 2013, Nungshi and Tashi stood on top of Mount Everest. That moment would change everything. “In a country like ours, men doubt you and challenge you constantly,” Nungshi says. “So when a girl achieves something, the whole nation celebrates. Women feel uplifted and take interest in our stories.”
Standing atop Everest was just the beginning for Nungshi and Tashi. As soon as they returned home, the sisters began planning their next expedition, then the next. Each summit was another step into history, and within three short years they became the youngest people, and the only siblings, to complete the Adventurer’s Grand Slam – climbing the highest mountain on every continent.
FINDING A HIGHER CALLING
Their adventures brought a lot of attention to Nungshi and Tashi, who became well known throughout India. They thought back to those nights on the mountain where they learned to fall asleep as gale force winds whipped the sides of their tent into a frenzy, shaking the walls for hours. Every day brought a new test of courage and resilience, introducing another thousand reasons to quit. But they didn’t.
The mountain strengthened their resolve to be a force for good back home, and inspired Nungshi and Tashi to use their platform to inspire girls in India to chase their own dreams without compromise. They didn’t want to climb mountains for fame or glory, but to blaze more trails for other women. Nungshi and Tashi found a higher calling on the mountaintops – mentorship.
They founded the NungshiTashi Foundation with the idea that the outdoors would play a key role in mentoring young women. “There were so many things we learned from being outside,” Tashi says. We learned so much through training and climbing, about being so mindful of the things around you and your footprint on the planet. Being outside helps you understand your vision for life and so many of those questions we ask ourselves become clear.”
Nungshi and Tashi say their mission with the foundation isn’t just about mentoring girls, but creating the next generation of women leaders who will inspire and mentor others. “Having mentors in India is a big challenge,” Nungshi says. “When you ask someone who their mentor is they usually come up with a male figure. It’s very rare to come across people who name other women.”
Thanks to the foundation, that trend is already beginning to fade. And Nungshi and Tashi aren’t just watching it happen from the side lines. They take a very hands-on approach, offering constant guidance and working with people to help them unleash their potential. “It’s really about creating a culture where people find a safe space to discuss things they wouldn’t usually talk about,” Tashi says. “A lot of people don’t have that at home so we’ve been able to fill that gap for a lot of people in India.” The foundation isn’t only having an impact on the girls who enrol in the programme. More and more parents are buying into a different ideology, one that recognises how important it is to let girls explore their own futures and chase their own ambitions.
NEVER SLOWING DOWN
Even as much of the world ground to a halt over the past year, Nungshi and Tashi have remained busy planning their next set of adventures. And while there are still plenty of adventures ahead, Nungshi and Tashi are working on a book that will chronicle the epic list of adventures that has led the sisters to reach a growing list of dreams and inspire young women from India and all over the world.
MEET FOREVER’S NEWEST BRAND AMBASSADORS
Forever is excited to welcome Nungshi and Tashi to our global family. Their values to promote healthy bodies and minds, while breaking barriers and inspiring others to chase their dreams represents everything Forever stands for. Forever is proud to work with Nungshi and Tashi as they continue to make history and inspire the next generation of leaders. We know these incredible women will continue to reach new heights and set even more world records, and can’t wait to support them on their journey. Just take a look at some of the things they’ve accomplished so far!
- At 21 years old, they became the world’s first female twins to summit Mount Everest.
- They were the first siblings and youngest people to ever complete the Adventurer’s Grand Slam, scaling the highest peaks on every continent and skiing to the North and South poles.
- The sisters won India’s highest adventure award, the Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award.
- They were also awarded the Leif Erikson Young Exploders Award by the president of Iceland.
- They started India’s first outdoor leadership academy, the NungshiTashi Foundation.
- Last year, Nungshi and Tashi led team Khukuri Warriors in Amazon’s World’s Toughest Race, hosted by Bear Grylls.