A Cambridge university PhD student is calling for business sponsorships and donations towards a once in lifetime programme to empower women and save the environment.

Harriet Bartlett, 25, from Epping, has been selected to join Homeward Bound, a global leadership programme for women, founded by Australian award-winning leadership expert, Fabian Dattner.

The 25-year-old is one of 100 selected women set to participate in the course this year but needs to raise £17,000 to participate.

“I was really excited to find out I had been selected for the programme – it’s prestigious, with only about a handful of UK women being chosen, but then quite quickly I felt quite daunted about the amount of fundraising I need to do,” said Miss Bartlett.

“The two main reasons I wanted to sign up to the Homeward Bound programme were, firstly improving equality for women. At the moment most undergraduate courses consist of 50% women but in terms of leadership roles and decision-making, women are super underrepresented, and this programme is trying to correct that.”

“Secondly, I want to help to shape our planet, and Homeward Bound is about solving challenges like biodiversity loss and climate change, my PhD research is focused on these topics and they are challenges I really care about.”

The Homeward Bound project is for women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine), subjects in which women are less present in senior positions.

Miss Bartlett is currently studying for a PhD in livestock sustainability at Gonville and Caius College.

The Cambridge student’s research is focusing on the best ways to raise pigs for the environment, antibiotic resistance and animal welfare, after studying veterinary medicine.

“I learned about the huge impact that our livestock sector has on our environment, and of the challenges of antibiotic resistance,” she said.

“I asked my lecturers about these problems and found out we hadn’t yet found the solutions- and I decided this is what I wanted to research.”

As part of her research, Miss Bartlett has been studying pigs across the UK and hopes to expand her study to Brazil in the future.

Despite pigs being one of the most intelligent animals in the world, pork the most eaten meat in the world and the largest antibiotic use per unit weight.

The keen scientist says through the programme, she hopes to develop her leadership skill and present people with correct scientific information about our food system.

“A problem in the livestock sector is that there is a lot of misinformation and many generalisations, but there’s a lot we simply don’t yet know.”

The passionate student first heard about the programme during a six-month project in Brisbane, Australia from another PhD student in 2017.

So far, Miss Bartlett has set up a crowdfunding page, applied to organisations within her university for sponsorship and received some donations from friend and family.

Alongside trying to obtain the money needed and organising fundraising events, participants must complete online content before flying to Argentina in November.

All money raised will go towards travel, insurance, equipment and winter clothing needed for her three-week intense training, whilst visiting the icy continent’s research stations.

“I have always wanted to go – Antarctica is an amazing place and we are losing it fast due to climate change,” the PhD student explained. “Someone did suggest for me to shave my head for donations, but my boyfriend luckily offered me a £1,000 not to.”

To make a donation for Harriet, visit https://chuffed.org/project/homeward-bound-harriet-to-antarctica.