GSMP 2015 Site Visits: Nungshi and Tashi Malik at NHL

By Brian Canever & Ashleigh Huffman October 10, 2015

At the entrance to the National Hockey League headquarters in New York City is a large, reflective shield bearing the NHL’s iconic logo. It is a familiar spot, where Susan Cohig and her two previous emerging leaders (Eliza Eliasz, 2013; Olga Dolinina, 2014) have posed for photos. On this occasion, we’re joined there by Nungshi and Tashi Malik, two unlikely women to spot at the country’s top hockey institution, but who appear absolutely delighted to be there.

During the last East Coast Site Visit of the 2015 U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, Drs. Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman, co-directors of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, & Society, and I, met with Susan, the NHL’s senior VP of integrated marketing, and the mountaineering twins from India to discuss success, survival and solidarity using two very different sports platforms.

“Coming from a country where we don’t have female mentors to look up to, it’s been a privilege to be with Susan,” Tashi said. “NHL has no obvious correlation with mountaineering, but we’ve learned so much about structure, providing opportunities, and supporting one another as women.”

Tashi and Nungshi, co-founders of the NungshiTashi Foundation, are the first and only twins to complete the Adventurer’s Grand Slam and are the GSMP’s youngest participants at 24 years old. In the past three years, they’ve achieved numerous world records. But, it is the passion for making India a mountaineering nation, and more importantly proving that women in their country are capable of anything, that pushes them forward.

“Many parents in rural India still consider the boy as their only offspring,” Nungshi said. “The girl child is caught in a vicious cycle of feticide and infanticide, denial, exclusion, malnutrition, lack of education, domestic work, and eventual dependence on the male.”

“When we took this up, we had a lot of challenges,” Tashi added. “But we knew it wasn’t impossible. The Mission2for7 was to bring about this power among girls so that they can say, ‘Nungshi and Tashi have done this, so why can’t we?’ And we’ve spoken to so many parents around India, and they start to believe it is possible for their daughters, too.”

Susan has used her experience as a seasoned marketer and mentor to support the twins’ dream of establishing their newly-launched foundation as a place that can give more girls in their country the tools to empower themselves, and to develop the perseverance it takes to climb the invisible mountains all women face.

“I may never be a mountain climber, but the same lessons they’ve learned on the physical mountains apply to my own life,” Susan said. “Nungshi and Tashi have brought so much to this organization with their energy, enthusiasm, commitment and, most of all, their spirit. They are forever part of the NHL family.”

Listen to the Center’s podcast conversation with Nungshi, Tashi and Susan at the link below