DARG Postgraduate Travel Prize Winner- Belen Martinez

Many congratulations to Belen Martinez who was awarded this years DARG Postgraduate travel prize. Belen is about to start her research project as part of her MSc in Sustainable Development at the University of the West of England.

The title of her research project is:

“Empowering Women through non-traditional economic activities. A case study of a female operated travel company in Ladakh”

Belen Martinez

 The research project aims to explore the involvement of women in non-traditional economic activities as a way to empower them and impact their communities. It intends to explore it by focussing on women working in a male-dominated environment such as mountaineering using the case of the Ladakhi Women Travel Company based in Leh, India.

Despite empowerment becoming a widely used term in the sustainability field, there is scant research into the empowering aspects of non-traditional work, especially in a male dominated environment. Trekking has always been a thoroughly male-dominated economic sector in Ladakh. By using the case study of the only all-female run travel company there, this research plans to address the impact of non-traditional work in relation to gender and development and how it can differ from an income generation program.

Ladakh was chosen as an example of the impact of modernisation and the connection between sustainability and women. The development in Ladakh is having a detrimental effect upon community and ecology, and women are taking an active role in preserving their culture and looking for alternative income.

This project will be framed around the ideas of Ecofeminism and the emphasis in the ways both nature and women are treated by patriarchal society. Ecofeminists agree that the domination of women and the domination of nature are fundamentally connected and that environmental efforts are therefore integral with work to overcome the oppression of women.


We wish Belen the best of luck with her research and are looking forward to her report on her return.

If you are interested in postgraduate funding from DARG the next closing date will be 1st May 2017. More information can be found on our funding page.