Started in the early 1900s in the U.S. with women marching through New York City demanding better pay, shorter working hours and voting rights, and now celebrated worldwide on March 8th every year, International Women’s Day is an important one. The day of awareness celebrates the cultural, social, economic and political achievements of women whilst also calling for gender equality. In numerous countries, such as Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam and China, the day is an official holiday (woohoo!) and in others is celebrated in a similar style to Mother’s Day with gifts galore. It’s fair to say, the role of women in society deserves to be celebrated in style.
So…who inspires us?
Here at Rickshaw, we’re all about making it meaningful. From supporting communities in our destinations to making our trips fun yet sustainable for our customers, the local projects we support are a big part of what we do. Some projects in particular are centered around empowering young women; giving them a chance of an education and bright future prospects. Others have been founded by women, with the aim of benefiting and conserving the environment of a particular destination. We’re also in awe of some of our Rickshaw Ramblers – women who are grabbing life by the horns and jetting off to far-flung places to experience something new, and not forgetting the numerous inspirational women in the media spreading knowledge whilst leaving a legacy. Have a read about some of our inspirational females…
1. Villa Arjuna School Fund
We are really proud to support a school fund for girls in east Bali, which was set up by the Dutch couple that run the Villa Arjuna bungalows from our bite-sized trip Take a Break on the East Coast. With the help of their guests, Els and Hans have set up the fund to provide secondary school scholarships for young girls from underprivileged families. In Bali, young boys are encouraged to continue their education after primary school but there’s often not enough money to send girls to school. Els and Hans are involved in the education of local girls and work together with the teachers to determine which girls are eligible for a scholarship.
2. Our very own Rickshaw Rambler: Mary Bradfield
Here at Rickshaw, there’s nothing we love more than putting together a unique holiday for our lovely customers and hearing all about their travels when they return. And talking about who inspires us, Mary is certainly up there. By the age of 82, she’s got two Rickshaw trips under her belt – the vibrancy of South East Asia’s Cambodia & Laos followed by the colourful and chaotic India earlier this year. What’s more – she did all of this independently and had a bloomin’ brilliant time whilst doing so. A true inspiration to us all!
Here are some of her thoughts about her travels to India with us…
“I could not have asked for better. Rickshaw were all most kind and helpful; nothing was too much trouble. My drivers in India were very good indeed – not once did I feel worried. I shall never know how they avoided all those lorries, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, tuk tuks, cows, people, children, goats, sheeps, camels and dogs which wandered all over the roads all the time! All of the guides I had here were also very good and were able to answer all of the questions I asked. Rickshaw’s choice of hotels for me were all so different and fascinating, and I am still pinching myself at having seen such a wonderful close up of a tiger. I am so very lucky”
3. Save Elephant Foundation
Dedicated to caring for elephants in Thailand through rescue and rehabilitation, community participation and education on eco-tourism, Save Elephant Foundation was founded by Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, a Thai woman born in a small hill tribe village two hours north of Chiang Mai. With a knowledge that Thailand’s national symbol was often being treated cruelly and was becoming endangered, Lek began advocating for the welfare and rights of the Asian elephant, and since 1996 has rescued 200 of the gentle giants in Thailand and nearby countries. She continues to raise international awareness of her work and strives to encourage others to follow her example, but most days can be found a the Elephant Nature Park, one of her projects in Northern Thailand, where visitors are welcomed to engage ethically with the animals – no riding or tricks allowed. Have a look at Why We’ve Said ‘No’ to Elephant Riding.
4. Dr. Biruté Galdikas
Aware of the adorable primate with shaggy rust-coloured fur and long arms that let them swing from tree to tree with ease? Yep, you’ve got it – the orangutan. Well, until one particular woman decided to begin studying this “person of the forest” (as they’re known in the Malay language) they didn’t get a lot of attention. Luckily, Dr. Biruté Galdikas, a researcher studying at UCLA, decided to journey to Borneo in the early 1970s to set up a research project studying this great ape in its native jungle environment. Battling against poachers, loggers, miners and gold miners which are a constant threat on their habitat, coupled with doubt from her colleagues back in the U.S., Biruté remained researching in Borneo for over 30 years. In doing so, she has expanded the scientific knowledge of this great ape and has acted as a spokesperson for their welfare and preservation of their jungle habitat. Truly inspirational indeed. If you fancy seeing these furry friends for yourself, our Orangutans and a Jungle Boat Cruise trip takes you to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre where you’ll come face-to-face with these adorable primates. You can also have a read of 7 Ways You Can Help Save Endangered Orangutans.
5. And last but not least… our very own Vicky!
We’d like to dedicate this blog post to our Director Vicky – a truly inspirational member of the Rickshaw Team. Always encouraging us to be ourselves, to be brave when making decisions and to build a company that truly cares about everyone involved – from customers to local partners and beyond. Thank you Vicky for making a difference!