Adventurer, stereotype breaker and history maker Galia Moss is the first Mexican, and Latin American, woman to  sail across the Atlantic Ocean solo. The 41 day, 9000 mile journey, which took her from Vigo, Spain to Quintana Roo, Mexico, wasn’t only a test of endurance, but also of the human spirit.

Galia trained for 7 years for this epic adventure, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. “During my training, it was hard on my self-esteem to see that there were mostly men in the courses,” Galia said in this video by UN Women. “I started wondering whether I could do it or not.” To find inspiration and build up her confidence, Galia searched for and read books about women who had previously made this trip, drawing on their experiences to complete her own.

“My message is to never, ever leave your dreams unrealized…”

As a little girl, Galia had always wanted to do something no one had done before, but she didn’t make this trip just to set a new record, she also wanted to help others. In partnership with Televisa Foundation, a donation was made for every eight miles she navigated, helping to build homes for Mexican families.

“When you are out at sea, there are very difficult days… and while I was sailing, I would count the miles and the houses that would be built if I kept going. That is what propelled me forward every day,” Galia said.

Since her record breaking journey in 2006, Galia has gone on three more solo sailing trips, which also gave back to her community. But no matter how many homes or schools have been built as a result of her journeys, Galia counts breaking gender stereotypes as one of her most important accomplishments.

“My biggest contribution to Mexican society has been breaking stereotypes, because I believe that we still follow gender roles about what men and women can do.”

And, if there’s one message Galia would like girls to remember, it’s “to never leave your dreams unrealized.”

Watch Galia talk about her epic journey

This video is part of UNWomen’s “Women of Achievement” series that spotlights women and girls from around the world who have “made it” in their respective fields — often in uncharted territories — by overcoming barriers and beating the odds to reach their goals.