Photo credits: Predrag Vučković

International Women’s Day was first established at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen. German women’s rights activist and Marxist theorist Clara Zetkin was the one who tabled the idea.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark celebrated the holiday for the first time on March 19th 1911, with the Soviet Union the first to make it a public holiday in 1917. The date of 8th March was adopted internationally in 1921.

In order to encourage and empower girls and women to participate in science fully, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11th February as International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015. This came as a response to facing the reality of gender (in)equality, and the fact that despite the tremendous progress that women made in increasing their participation in higher education, they are still underestimated in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Celebrating this important date, we go back to 2015. again and bring the story of an, to say the least, unusual expedition. This is a year that will be remembered, inter alia, as a year when we got to know a new member of our genus. Homo naledi, a primitive, small brained species made its way to our family tree.

The story goes back to 2013. when six women, now also known as “underground astronauts”, came to South Africa with the same goal – squeezing into a narrow cave system called Rising star in order to discover something extraordinary. After a researcher named Lee Barger stumbled across an interesting info – that there might be a fossil find at the Cradle of Humankind, SA, he decided to put together a team of 6 highly qualified anthropologists, archeologists and paleontologists for the exploration. But there was an important matter – size. With passages down to 18 cm wide, it sure was a challenge for any caver. It is thanks to petite structure that this was an all-female group, which later made history of its own. Homo naledi (“naledi” meaning “star” in a local South African language), a combination of primitive (by brain size, shoulders and torso) and modern (by long legs and indications of tools usage) was discovered by powerful and inspiring women-scientists: Marina Elliot, Beca Piexotoo, Lindsay Hunter, Elen Feuerriegel, Hannah Morris, and Alia Gurtov.

Let this be a motivation for all the girls and women out there with a desire to make a difference, and remember to never stop learning and exploring!

A place not to miss while in Montenegro is, without a doubt, the surreal Lipa cave, so be sure to book your visit and take a peak at the astonishing underground world.