Travel & International Women’s Day
Emma recounts how her journey through India opened her eyes to the continued battle women face all over the world to have their voices heard and opportunities equaled.
What it means to me: women around the world
Being fortunate enough to travel around parts of the world over the last 12 years, has been a huge eye opening experience. I’ve had fantastic opportunities to broaden my cultural horizons and meet new people from all walks of life; and to see how people live all over the world. When talking about women, and international women’s day, makes me think back to the time I travelled to India, I was 23 and had not long returned from a year backpacking around Australia; talk about a contrast. Besides from the Deli belly, wild cows and constant stream of honking cars, one of the biggest shocks was seeing hardly any women outside. Everywhere you turned there were men talking to other men, walking with other men, I even remember a time I got onto a train and looked down the entire length and saw a sea of heads all turn to look my way, all of which were men.
The women were in the houses, either taking care of the children or the home, they were not allowed outside without a male chaperone. I was hugely taken back by this, by their lack of freedom, by the emptiness of a woman’s presence on the streets. Not only did they lack the free will to go wherever they pleased whenever they pleased, most were forced into marriage at a young age. I remember hearing stories about how women who had been raped were sent to prison for committing adultery on their husbands. I was utterly stunned that this was happening in my lifetime, where on the one hand a young 23 year old woman was able to work and save money to buy a plane ticket to India to explore and travel freely, while a young 23 year old woman in India had most likely been married for 10 years, had a couple of children and confined to her house. I know this is not a cultural aspect of India, more to do with religion and beliefs.
That’s why for me, when I think about International Women’s Day, it’s time to reflect on all women around the world, those less fortunate than myself, who still have the battle of equality and free will. In many cultures and countries. And although I am very fortunate to live in this country, it doesn’t mean that we, as women, have won the battle collectively on equality, all the while women are out there without a voice.
Being a woman: what am I most proud of?
For me I never took the conventional route in life, I am very proud of the fact that I didn’t seek out a relationship or run around after boys when I was younger. Instead I worked hard and saved my money and kept my independence and got to travel all over the world, for this I am so proud of myself. The strength it gave me, the courage and the power to say; “yes, I can make that happen!” And then make it happen. Don’t get me wrong it was no walk in the park, instead a roller coaster of emotions, but good or bad I grew as an individual, forming my own opinions and challenging my values and beliefs. You never know what you are truly capable of until you push yourself out of your comfort zone.