Rojita Adhikari &
Sreya Banerjee

Widows of Everest
Commissioned by Al Jazeera, 101 East

A beautifully shot story of feminist heroes against the odds, this film uprooted our assumptions of Everest climbers and made us think of them long after the film had ended. It probes an issue hiding in plain view – and exposes the quiet courage of the sherpa widows, which is as memorable and beautiful as the Himalayas themselves. A stunning film.

 -News Features Award Jury

Mount Everest is the ultimate mountaineering challenge. Climbers come from around the world seeking glory, but for those helping them scale the world’s highest peak, it can be deadly work. Sherpa men die in disproportionate numbers, leaving behind widows who struggle to survive. Forced to become breadwinners, some women are defying tradition by breaking into the male-dominated world of Himalayan climbing.

Taking on Everest is part of a larger battle to overcome centuries of discrimination against women who have lost their husbands to the mountain. The filmmakers met the Sherpa widows defying tradition to conquer the world’s highest mountain.

Biographies

Rojita Adhikari’s work has been featured in TIME, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC World Service, News Deeply and Nepali Times, amongst others. She started her journalism career in 2006 as a news reporter for Nepal FM, a Kathmandu-based radio station. She then joined Antenna Foundation Nepal as a reporter and producer, where she travelled to the remotest districts of Nepal covering the effects of the Maoist civil war. In 2010, she joined BBC Media Action Nepal as a radio producer and presenter for a weekly programme covering gender equality and women’s rights.

Sreya Banerjee is a New Delhi-based journalist and filmmaker whose documentaries have appeared on Al Jazeera, France 24, Channel News Asia and Arte. Over the past 15 years, she has worked extensively in North America, Europe and Asia, focusing on social and political issues. Before moving to India to focus on long-form filmmaking, she worked in New York, Washington and Paris for Reuters and the BBC. During her time in South Asia, she’s covered the rise of religious nationalism, gender politics and environmental crises in the region.