Pictured: My Daughters , Both Travellers. Top picture – my older daughter hiking in Jordan. Bottom picture – my younger daughter chats with kids in Kenya
I’m lounging beside the pool at a popular hostel on a sweltering evening in Cambodia. Music blares as people from umpteen different countries talk, laugh, swim and play cards. Many of the women are travelling alone.
It has been a sad few months for female travellers. Just last week a young British backpacker died in undetermined circumstances in Guatemala. In December another British woman was murdered while travelling New Zealand and another two young women died in Morocco. And in Sept. 2018 a female Belgian tourist to Canada was murdered.
When you hear about these stories, please do something for me – don’t blame the victim – don’t shame these young women for daring to venture out to see and experience all the splendours of our planet.
Instead, please ask yourself, “What is broken in my part of this world and how can I fix it so that women everywhere can travel without fear?”
As a woman, I not only deserve safety while in a foreign country. I deserve to lose my way on a deserted country road in Canada and to live to tell the tale. I deserve to walk to my car alone at night without worrying about being raped. Women everywhere deserve an evening out – dinner, wine, dancing, a movie – with the secure knowledge that they will arrive home safely afterwards.
Every taxi ride, every walk across campus, each and every daily commute and morning jog, every time a woman shoulders a backpack or grabs her suitcase, she deserves safety.
Demand it, make it happen, give it. Women are half the sky.
I think of my mom who, when I was 14, travelled for a month by dugout canoe deep into the Amazonian jungle. Mom would have been 42 at the time and she and another woman stayed in village huts and ate simple local foods. She had been really nervous to go but that trip changed her and became one of the highlights of her life. I own a small black and white photo of Mom smiling from that canoe.
I think of my daughters who are both world travellers, world changers. Let us help change this world and make it safer for them.
So today, now, please hold a moment of silence for these young women, so needlessly lost, and for their families whose lives are forever altered.
I close with these words from American poet Audre Lorde:
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”