ZafigoX 2017 | First Asian Women Empowerment and Travel Conference

ZafigoX 2017 |  First Asian Women Empowerment and Travel Conference

ZafigoX 2017 breaks the barriers with the first women’s empowerment and travel conference as part of GTF 2017.

Every woman has a story to tell at ZafigoX to help empower other women to travel the world.

The first women’s travel event in Asia, ZafigoX drew women together to meet, bond, learn, discover and be inspired by other women sharing their travel tales.

Women’s travel is the new buzz word. Going digital has its benefits, as more women find out that travelling solo is not so hard after all. Sharing photos, videos and the evolution of travel blogs (thoughts) on social media encourage women that travelling solo is possible.

As the speakers in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s share their stories, the participants warm up to bonding as a fraternity of women.

ZAFIGO | a travel website for women in Asia

Zafigo and ZafigoX’s founder, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, an avid traveller wanted to make travel safer, better and more interesting for independent women travellers.

As most of the travel information is geared towards male travellers, women traveller had to grapple with the little information online they could find.

Zafigo aims to be a platform and community for women to discover and share their travel experiences, knowledge, and advice. This knowledge connects women travellers in Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.

THIRST FOR TRAVEL

The international speakers come from far flung places that most of us in Malaysia would only dream off. They are from diverse backgrounds but the common thread is their zeal and zest for life and adventure. Out of the many inspiring stories shared by strong independent women, we’ve summarised those that touched a chord and impacted us the most.

GETTING THE FROG FROM UNDER THE COCONUT

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir shares her first childhood experiences travelling with her Dad. In her talk aptly titled “Getting the frog from under the coconut”, Marina shares about the big scary moment when she travelled on her own for the first time.

She realised there was a real need for sharing of knowledge for a community of women travellers. As women need more detailed information than men, women generally need to plan ahead. In many countries, the cultural attitudes towards men and women differ greatly. Women need to worry more about safety in seemingly peaceful countries.

Like the proverbial frog that peeked out of the coconut shell, Marina found the exhilaration and freedom of travelling addictive.

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir shares her first childhood experiences travelling with her Dad. Photo: Doris Lim
OVERCOMING EXPECTATIONS & BARRIERS ON WOMEN AND TELLING THEIR STORIES

Women of India founder, Deepti Asthana is a photographer, a storyteller, traveller and a Canon India mentor.

As she documents stories of women across rural India for ‘Women of India’ Deepti saw the dichotomy of the two India. Whilst women’s rights change in bigger cities, in rural areas discrimination against women is rampant. Baby girls are still given away, sold, or even killed.

Her photographs are stark slices of rural life. Deepti is committed to bring such stories out to provide a platform for the unheard voices.

Photographer Deepti Asthana is moved to tell the real life stories of rural women. Photo: Doris Lim
WHEN YOU THINK CANCER STOPS YOU FROM LIFE

Freshly out of surgery, The Godmothers’ founder, Nelleisa (Nell) Omar’s journey of hope and strength amplify her stance to promote Cancer awareness. Instead of falling into the depths of despair, she took to diving and completed her Open Water certification.

Even when she was ill and undergoing chemo, Nell’s bold decision to share photos of her post surgery impacted many women globally.

Nell’s journey of self-discovery and celebration of life makes us want to cheer her on her next adventure to conquer Mt Kinabalu and Mt. Rinjani.

Cancer did not stop Nell Omar’s exuberance for life. Photo: Doris Lim
HITCHHIKING FROM SWEDEN TO MALAYSIA: OF MONEY, MEN, AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Solo Traveller, Petrina Thong did the unimaginable and survives in Europe with only USD200 after she flew to Stockholm on a whim. Famished and broke, Petrina dumpster dived, slept at petrol stations hitchhiking all the way back to Kuala Lumpur. After a roller coaster adventure of literally surviving by the skin of her teeth, Petrina clocked 22 countries in 13 months.

The kindness of strangers kept her going. Through it all she experienced harassment from indecent drivers and dangerous situations and live to tell the incredible tale!

Petrina Thong found her elusive Rainbow Gathering in the Baltics. Photo: Doris Lim
6 YEARS, 67 COUNTRIES, 62,000KMS, 5 CONTINENTS, 1 GIRL: WHAT I’VE LEARNED CYCLING THE WORLD

Solo Cyclist Jin Jeong beat the odds and cycled through 67 countries in North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and South East Asia. She did all this without going home to Korea for six years. She clocked an amazing 62,000 kilometres (38,525 miles).

As a woman travelling alone, she has been hit by a car, sexually harassed by men while on the road, cried, was extremely frightened but she hasn’t and won’t give up travelling.

She shared the 5 most important lessons she has learned cycling the world alone that changed her life forever.

Korean Jin Jeong saw the world on a bicycle. Photo: Doris Lim
STEPPING UP & OUT: MOVING MY FAMILY TO CAMBODIA & WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Ardent Traveler founder Deborah Chan’s mission is to inspire young adults to make a difference in the world. Witnessing the crumbling of the World Trade Centre was the catalyst for her radical move from the corporate world to rural Cambodia.

In Cambodia, they built four literacy centres, trained and developed local leaders, teachers and successfully kick-started a volunteer program called STORM (Short Term Operation Relief Mission).

After travelling to five continents as a family with two young children in tow, Deborah literally walk the talk to teach her children that travel is a powerful form of education.

Deborah Chan found clarity and purposeful living by building communities. Photo: Doris Lim
HOW I BUILT A BUSINESS IN TRAVEL

Go! Girl Guides (GGG) founder Kelly Lewis has written the world’s first and only series of travel guidebooks for women. GGG convenes the annual Women’s Travel Fest, a conference aimed at inspiring and empowering women to travel. Recently she launched Damesly, a boutique women’s tour company for creative and professional women.

Kelly’s story of how her love of travel has morphed several travel-related businesses is inspiring and encouraging.

For someone who has been to over 70 countries, Kelly’s enthusiasm and passion about empowering women to see the world is addictive.

For Kelly Lewis it took a dream to build her travel related businesses. Photo: Doris Lim
IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS: WHY I LEFT SINGAPORE AND BECAME A DIGITAL NOMAD

Women Digital Nomads founder Chrys Tan ditched her advertising career to work as a Digital Nomad. Currently based in Mexico, Chrys works remotely on her popular website, run affiliate sites and online businesses.

Her workshop session shows how to prepare ahead to work remotely as a freelancer. Chrys’s sensible approach; good planning, hard work, thriftiness and being sensible are the keys to a location-independent lifestyle.

Chrys Tan discovered that working on line frees her creativity when she’s no longer location bound. Photo: Doris Lim
WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOP

Aside from beauty related workshops; participants also learnt how to how to pack for a cycling trip, start a location independent lifestyle and learn basic self-defence moves to escape potential dangerous situations.

Ann ‘Athena’ Osman and Emily Barner demonstrate moves to get out of dangerous situations during the workshop “Self-Defence For The Female Traveller”.

SUMMARY

The three days inspiring talks, panel discussions, workshops on life and travel skills are just a start of an avalanche. Marina said in closing, the participants can proudly claim that they were there at the first gathering for women achievers. These women travellers achieved the impossible because they dared to dream.

The brevity of life impacts the legacy one leaves behind. The adventure and thirst for travel is just the beginning.

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