Sabira Mehrin Founder, Wander Woman
Years ago, rarely we have seen women taking initiative to travel on their own without any male supervision. Thankfully, this scenario is changing and observing the other side of the coin now. Women are gaining confidence and courage to take steps towards travelling solo if not in groups.
This change didn’t take place overnight. A ground-breaking platform named Wander Woman consistently worked to inspire women to travel all around the world.
Wander Woman is a community that provides travel assistance, connects female travellers and organizes travel experiences for women from Bangladesh.
Three years ago, Sabira Mehrin Saba, the founder of Wander Woman, figured out how there is a gap of information from Bangladeshi travellers’ perspective. Hence she wanted to find travellers who could share travel experiences to help those who are planning to travel. Sabira also noticed how women travelers face more resistance from society when she aims to pursue global opportunities or plans to travel outside home. Lack of security and social stigma held women back from exploring the world.
To change mindset and empower women, Sabira founded Wander Woman in September 2017 as a Facebook Group to create a niche community of female travel enthusiasts. Overnight the group grew which she started with 200 members only. Wander Woman is now a solid network of 25,000 Bangladeshi women residing all over the world.
Due to demand, Wander Woman started organizing allwomen tours from 2018 and hence, it registered as a travel agency in Bangladesh that year. Since then this platform has arranged travel experiences for 1000+ women and served 15,000+ women with information and travel assistance. The 97% engagement rate in group for the last 3 years is a clear indication of how women are involved with this community. Every woman supports other women as a part of peer to peer model which demonstrates epitome of women supporting each other in need.
Wander Woman stands out in terms of destination, price and safety assurance. Women who sign up for WW Travel experiences always receive transparent information and get to meet travel mates before the trip. Unlike any other travel group, Wander Woman serves trips to a limited number of members ranging from 10 to 15 for each trip to create strong bonds among members and ensure quality in experience.
Sabira observed a changing pattern in the travel style of women after the formation of Wander Woman. Firstly, women ,being inspired by fellow Wander Woman travellers, started investing in tours. More solo women travelers are joining in Wander Woman tours. Thankfully, more women are taking their travel experiences into account and focusing on documenting them. Through Instagram, Wander Woman highlights the female travellers of Bangladesh and this is where Sabira observed growing travel bloggers which weren’t the case during the inception of Wander Woman.
Safety has always been the biggest concern in travel experiences and hence, Wander Woman takes well defined measures to ensure safety for women. Pre-tour meetup is arranged to inform travellers about every possible scenario and prepare travellers for uncertainties. On top of that, Wander Woman has established a connection with tourist police to ensure safety for the travelers. Lastly, Wander Woman is the first travel company that will provide travel insurance for those who sign up for their tours.
From community to company, Wander Woman has shifted towards changing the mindset and travel experience for women in Bangladesh. Given the powerful network of bold women, Wander Woman is now catering more than tourism.
Realizing the need for certain skills while travelling, Wander Woman has launched its empowerment wing called WW Academy where women can learn necessary skills such as self-defence, photography, swimming and more. Sabira addressed harassment issue last year in a domestic trip and hence, created WW Academy for preparing women with the right skills.
Wander Woman indeed struggled with forming a proper team initially and this is why Sabira handled the platform on her own till July 2018. Afterwards, her team started growing and now she is working with a team of 8 people. Sabira is aiming to automate the entire process of registration and shift from online to offline model at the same time keeping the growing demand in mind.
Sabira truly believes that travel does empower women as women, in general, rely on second opinion and struggle to take bold decisions due to social frame. However, travel experiences push women to make firm decisions starting from the first step. Decision making itself is a sign of empowerment. On top of that women gain confidence in navigating herself out of her comfort zone while travelling - this is another way to feel empowered. Hence, Sabira wants to continue to inspire more women to travel to only empower women as an individual but also to let them explore the world and realize their goals.
Each for Equal: A journey towards ultimate attainment
There was a time when women in leadership positions were thought to be an impossible dream. Things have evidently changed as now we can see women like Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, has consistently ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women. In this competitive world, when we look around, there are a number of inspirational women come to our mind who are leaving their footprints in different areas of expertise and endeavor.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual which promotes the concept that an equal world is an enabled world. Bangladesh has achieved tremendous success by narrowing down the gender inequality in workplaces and has earned good reputation in every sector for creating scopes for its women to participate in the workforce. Businesses are being reshaped and revamped due to women’s involvement in F-commerce. According to the World Economic Forum index,
Bangladesh is leading the entire Asian region in terms of female workforce participation. 18% of board seats in Bangladesh are held by female directors, which is higher than other countries in the South Asia region. Bangladesh also tops its neighbors in the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, ranking 50th among 153 countries. However, a recent IFC study showed that in Bangladesh, only 5% of all independent directors of 294 companies listed on the DSE, are women.
Among various reasons, the progenitive role of women constrains them to choose between motherhood and their career. Multiple obstacles remain unchanged for women both in law and in culture. Still now, in the developed parts of the world, women are undervalued. That is why, female employees’ career becomes stagnant in the mid-level. The principles of valuing female in the workplace is indispensable in order to bring out their inner potential. Many research and survey conducted internationally suggests that opportunities should be made available so that the female employees do not feel discriminated and get the opportunity to perform symmetrically alongside male employees. Every working sector should realize the impact of the role of women and work on it so that from academics to corporates, medical to business, more women can shine bright.
IDLC Finance Limited