A 38-year-old woman named Deep J Contractor battled all odds to conquer a brutal continent like Antarctica. She is the first female forest officer to be part of the 'Climate Force Antarctica 2022 Expedition' to mark the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.' Belonging to the Karnataka Indian Forest Service, Contractor became the third such officer, apart from being the first woman officer to achieve the feat.
For Deep J Contractor, the journey towards the expedition was far from easy. While training, she developed arthritis and appendicitis that held her back immensely. However, she continued to soldier on and made her mark by reaching the continent. Her achievement is now proving to be a source of inspiration for women around the country.
'Nothing Is Impossible'
Deep J Contractor is a part of the Karnataka Forest Services after graduating with flying colours in 2011. Initially, she was not enthused about travelling to Antarctica as the place did not intrigue her. An IAS officer from the 2012 batch named Charulatha Somal recommended her name for the expedition after returning from one.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, she said, "When I started researching, I realised that it is not just a normal journey but a climate change awareness expedition. They wanted us to learn about it, see its effects on Antarctica, and understand how it will affect our own countries."
From the selection process to the training, it was a journey not devoid of hurdles. She had to give an online interview and prepare for the visa and necessary processes involved in the COVID-19 protocol during the time. After that, her training started. She began to work out to gear up for the expedition. While doing so, she encountered arthritis and appendicitis that held her back.
"It was not just the strength of muscles; we had to learn to walk with all that equipment, including three to four layers at the bottom, four to five layers on the top, two gloves and muck boots which are knee-high waterproof warm boots that will give tiny movement in ankles. The mental strength came from physical achievement; once that was done, now my mind started believing that it can do it," she tells the news publication.
Raising Awareness About Climate Change
As the name suggests, the 2041 Climate Force Antarctica 2022 Expedition sheds light on the effects of climate change on the continent. During the expedition, the team saw a melting iceberg with their own eyes. It broke their hearts to see the consequences of human activities. Contractor explains, "Our minds were boggled; what if this melts and adds to the water. No wonder people are afraid of the rising sea levels. It was really fascinating and also heartbreaking to notice human activities that we do here are affecting the wildlife in Antarctica.
People often do not associate such expeditions with women, and they underestimate their power, stating that they may not be capable of achieving this. Deep J Contractor's achievement smashes all the patriarchal notions in light of this. She adds, "I would like to tell the women in our country to stop putting limitations on themselves based on gender, age, position in society, marital status, whether we have children, etc. The minute we break those barriers in our minds, physical barriers automatically disappear."