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– United Nations: UNIFEM

United Nations, 15 December 1999

PRESS ADVISORY For Immediate Release

Victoria Manno, a 35 year old television actress and journalist from Argentina, departs December 18* on an expedition that will make her the first woman to scale the highest mountain in the Americas alone. At 6,959 meters, Mt. Aconcagua is located in the Argentine province of Mendoza. Manno hopes to reach the summit at dawn on New Years Day. After unfurling a banner from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), she will send a live Internet broadcast of peace to the world’s women and children through a satellite phone and her web page. “I want to make this a moment to offer faith, hope and peace to all women and children, because I consider the new millennium a time of great significance for humanity,” Manno says. The motto of her expedition is, “At the summit, the end is the beginning” (El fin es el comienzo en las alturas). “It’s an honor for UNIFEM to be part of a journey that both marks the struggle and tremendous progress of women, and reaffirms the importance of promoting women’s rights and equality,” says Noeleen Heyzer, UNIFEM’s Executive Director. “This initiative is an inspiration and a celebration of the commitment and strength required to realize our dreams and to make gender equality a reality.” Manno, who comes from the small village of San Rafael in the Argentine province of Mendoza, is a pentathlete who says she first wanted to climb Mt. Aconcagua when she was 16, but was not allowed because she was a minor. She has been preparing for the ascent for over a year and will be accompanied by a guide to help carry equipment and provisions. She plans to climb the mountain’s northern face, which is considered more accessible, but is also higher. Temperatures with wind-chill drop as low as 50 degrees below zero Celsius; b winds swirl the snow into blinding whiteouts. Manno will carry the usual climbing gear plus her satellite phone and a video camera, and will only be able to stay at the top of the mountain for about an hour. In addition to her message on January 1st, she also plans a broadcast on December 24th from the Plaza de Mulas at 4,220 meters. On December 26th, she will reach the Nido de Condores at 5,350 meters, which is so high that she will be able to see the curve of the earth. Manno’s website address is www.victoriamanno.com. UNIFEM is a United Nations agency that funds women’s development programmes and strategies in more than 100 developing countries worldwide, including over 30 nations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Major initiatives include strengthening women’s economic rights; increasing women’s participation in governance and leadership; and promoting women’s human rights, particularly through eliminating all forms of violence against women.

For more information please contact UNIFEM E-mail: micol.zarb@undp.org * Due to technical difficulties, Manno has changed her original departure date from December 16th to December 18th 1999.