London, Mar 26: Reena Kaushal Dharmashakthu of Delhi will be the first Indian woman to travel to the South Pole along with an all women team, representing five continents. Dharmashakthu (38) is the only South Asian in the team comprising of eight women who are planning to reach the South Pole in time to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth.
"It is a distant dream come true. My participation will be a huge step forward towards empowering women in South Asia, where women are far away from being treated as equals," said Dharmashakthu.
The group plans to travel 800km over six weeks, braving sub -30C (-22F) temperatures to reach the heart of Antarctica, in an attempt to raise global awareness on global warming.
Team leader Felicity Aston (31) is a meteorologist from Kent, UK, and has travelled all over the world to select seven other members of the expedition, the BBC reports.
Aston chose women from India, Cyprus, Ghana, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand and Jamaica to make up the team representing the 53-member Commonwealth.
The team, after completing two weeks' training in Norway, were reunited in London last week, where they were introduced to Queen Elizabeth II as the Commonwealth marked 60 years.
Aston selected her seven-team members from more than 800 applicants. She said that raising awareness of climate change was one of the factors that featured strongly in the recruitment process.
The eight women, who speak seven languages, are expected to be take up the role of championing efforts to curb global warming once they have completed their expedition in Jan 2010.
"People should be aware that this Earth does not belong to them...they have borrowed it from next generations," said Dharmashakthu.
The other members of the team are: Barbara Erefua Yanney from Ghana, Najiba Al-Sufri from Brunei, Charmaine Tate from New Zealand, Kim-Marie Spence from Jamaica, and Sophia Pang from Singapore.