FOR a “woman of colour”, Harpreet Chandi, is a pioneer.
If that name means nothing to you, how about her soubriquet, “Polar Preet”? OK, you need more help. How about putting into Google “polar explorer”? Now hit “images”. Look to the fifth photo, and you will see Chandi in her blue hooded coat. This unassuming, humble and determined British Army captain, yes you read correctly, British Army captain, did something no other non-white woman has done.
She became the first woman of colour to complete a solo trek across Antarctica – the South Pole – in January 2022. Before she left for her solo mission, you would not have found a non-white face as a polar explorer. It was not until recently that she became comfortable using, and owning, that term “woman of colour”.
“A woman of colour. I’m so glad I finally felt comfortable to use this term, which was only a few months before I left,” she told a homecoming audience at The Shard in London days after completing her voyage. “I thought about what had been stopping me and it was how others may perceive it. But then, why would I change the way I identify based on other people’s perceptions?”
Chandi was born in Derby, but she is proud of her Indian roots. She joined the British Army reserves when she was 19. It was only six years ago that she decided to serve her country fulltime, as a physiotherapist.
“A lot of people ask why it is mentioned at all. Are we not equal? I have seen it on numerous occasions in the comments.
“To me, equality never meant we are all the same. After all, nobody questions it when my job role as an Army officer is mentioned, or my age or that I