Women on the go

FOR the first time in Asia, women can look forward to an event that is solely for female travellers.

The brainchild of activist and writer Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, ZafigoX will be held from Aug 29 to 31 at Royale Chulan Penang during the George Town Festival 2017.

It hopes to empower women to come together, discover, learn and be inspired.

At last year's George Town Festival, zafigo.com held a successful talk on Women and Travel. This year, it is expanding its involvement to three days.

Over the course of the three days, ZafigoX will feature talks from speakers such as Manal al-Sharif who led a right-to-drive campaign in Saudi Arabia; South Korean Jeong HyoJin who has been cycling solo over 63,000km around the world for six years (and is still going strong); as well as Malaysia's Petrina Thong who safely hitchhiked from Sweden to Malaysia.

There will also be workshops and activities such as the Masterclass on Travel Photography by Brendan O Se whose photogaphs were selected by Apple for its iPhone billboards, as well as a workshop on self-defence for women by Malaysian MMA fighter Ann 'Athena' Osman.

Also look out for works from local women artisans at the bazaar.

ZafigoX is a project by zafigo.com that was started three years ago by Marina and her team.

She said Zafigo.com came about after years of travelling for the causes she's championed and NGOs that she is a part of. Some of those places are not exactly top tourist destinations.

The one question she always had to ponder is: "What will I need to bring when I go there, especially how do I dress?"

Discussing it further, Marina explained: "I had to go to a meeting with parliamentarians in Pakistan and I had no idea how to dress. So I did the usual thing, I got my laptop and looked it up and could not find anything.

"There are so many travel website but they do not tell you what to wear when you are going for a meeting in Pakistan, for example. So I had to ask people."

Marina eventually wore a baju kurung throughout the event which worked out fine.

She then asked other women who travel a lot if information like what they should wear and safety issues would be of interest to them, and they said it did.

"When women travel, we need to look out for different things from men."

The idea to set up zafigo.com was born when she sat down and spoke to her friend, James Chong, who now handles strategy and development for the site.

The website not only offers lots of tips on travel from different women travellers but also acts as a forum for them to share their stories, experiences and, in some cases, cautionary tales.

Marina said: "There are a lot of women who travel nowadays and a lot of them travel alone or in groups. A lot of them are going to different places for different experiences. Not only are there more women who are travelling but they are dying to tell people about their trips".

Marina said they hope to expand the website to have a community page for women to share their experiences from all over the world.

When asked who ZafigoX is targeted towards, Marian said: "It will mostly be women who like to travel and would like to travel". — AFP