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Emine - WCS 2017 speech - Telling women's stories

Emine - WCS 2017 speech - Telling women's stories

HoldBreaker Team |

Wow, what an incredible day, thank you for coming – it’s great to be here!
I know you have had a super busy day and I hope Anna and I can keep the momentum of giving you value going in this short time we have together.


I would like to start with the reason I get out of bed every morning; I want to inspire people break through their limitations so they can live a life on their terms.


I remember a moment over ten years ago, very clearly. I was feeling petrified and had no idea what’s gonna happen next.  But I knew, with certainty, that whatever the future had in store for me, it couldn’t get any worse than the life I was living. It was the moment just before I told my abusive husband that I was ending our marriage. The fear in our minds is always 1000 times worse than the reality and when we overcome the fear, and we go for it - the feeling of freedom is one of the purest of emotions I’ve ever felt.


And once you’re free from your limitations, you can do anything you set your mind to!


That’s why I love climbing so much. Every time we push our grade, we’re constantly fighting our physical and mental limits. The more we push, the more confident we become. And that confidence is not confined to the climbing wall, it spreads into other areas in our life, like our home, work & into our relationships.


Emine Bouldering


From my experiences in life, I have learned, "we can’t control events, but we can choose what we focus on. We can choose what things mean AND we can choose what to do. Those three questions, those three choices" – that is something we have full control over.


I was born in Stockholm, my parents are Turkish. My father kept it no secret that he wanted boys but he got three beautiful girls, my older sister Jessica, me and my younger sister Erica. Shortly after Erica was born, my parents went separate ways.


What I chose to focus on - I’m not a boy, I would never become one so no point trying. But that didn’t mean that I was worthless, or that I did things badly because I was a girl. I saw how confident and capable my mum was and she was like me, a girl. So growing up, I would do the best that Emine could do, to the best to my abilities.


What it meant – that women rock, my mum became my hero, she stood up for what she believed in and if I grew up and had half her strength, I’d be lucky.


What I did - What I could see from my environment, growing up as a child, was that women stayed home, no one really worked apart from my mum and she was raising three kids on her own, in a country where she really didn’t know the language. So I wanted to become like my mum. And in my mind, as a child, I thought that strength came from looking physically strong, that’s why sports have always been very important to me.



Maybe it’s not that surprising that I’ve chosen a sports related, male dominated industry – like climbing. Thanks to HoldBreaker, I’ve been able to go to outdoor events, meetings, outdoor shows and festivals where I’ve been able to identify three different groups within climbing. And the best way for me to describe them, is to ask you to image a pyramid with three tiers:


Industry drivers on the 1st tier 
Influencers on the 2nd tier
Climbers on the 3rd tier

The higher up we go in the pyramid, the less women I see.


The "climbers" are the ones who are passionate and love the sport, the ones that hang out at the wall or crag for hours and days.


The “influencers”, are our climbing walls, instructors, mountain guides, professional climbers, & retailers. The influencers are the ones who suggest to the climbers what’s popular, what gear is out there, what is possible, what to wear, who's worth following. This group interacts with both the climbers and the industry drivers.


The “Industry drivers”, are the Brands, manufacturers, distributors & associations, these are the ones who produce and dictate what’s on the market. As a retailer going to various places, I haven’t come across a single woman who’s in a decision making position for this last group. We should work towards getting women on all the tiers to make it more balanced.  



I hope that with events like the WCS and the current momentum of strong female role models in climbing, that together, we can inspire women to go and become “Industry drivers” so our female needs, wants and ideas - are represented more realistically. Personally I’m so fed up with there not being any comfortable, good looking clothes and I’m tired of seeing pink and purple. And I’m working on changing that.


What we can do now, is to keep the momentum of showing strong female climbers going and not leave the progression of women in climbing to the professional female climbers. There are so many women out there, and I know you are here today, women with different backgrounds and circumstances who are equally as inspirational, who climbs hard, works hard, juggles a full-time job, a family, a social life and still manages to go and climb 5-6 days a week. You should start sharing your stories because it is inspirational and motivational – even though you might not feel like it. The best example I can give at the moment is Margot Hayes – did anyone hear when she got first 8a? and then suddenly, the whole climbing world hears she got La Rambla 9a+!


The more we share, the more people will see it as the norm. The more people see it as the norm, the more people will feel comfortable with sharing. This is SO IMPORTANT because the next generation will see it. They will hear it. They will act on it by being more confident, by pushing themselves and they will inspire others around them – just like my mum did for me.

When we share our stories, we can start making an impact, leading to a lasting change.


So in the spirit of the WCS - develop, connect, share and inspire on!

Thank you for listening



(Quote from Tony Robbins)

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