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Female-led initiatives to explore on your next trip

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This International Women’s Day, join us in a joyous celebration of women across the globe. As you plan your next adventure, choose to learn about their everyday experiences and involvement in their local communities, within which they play varied and crucial roles. As you take a moment to look at the world through their eyes, you’ll get to dive into the intricacies and uniqueness of their day-to-day lives, uncovering the power and impact their contributions have to society, as well as the gender dynamics and challenges women face in their countries.

From visiting cooperatives to uncover the challenges and triumphs of women in Morocco, to understanding how Ghanaian women fuel their local economy through deep-rooted crafting traditions, these are seven ways to explore female-oriented initiatives and projects as you travel. These activities are eye-opening and humbling, and often serve to shift our perspectives and preconceptions – by partaking in them, you won’t just be supporting local businesses responsibly and more authentically, you’ll also be helping towards the financial independence of local women. They’re also deeply supported by our local travel experts, who will happily tell you more about them as you craft your trip together.

Gain deep insight from cooperatives in Morocco

If you’re interested in getting to the heart of Morocco’s rich traditions and cultural heritage, you shouldn’t miss a chance to explore the intricate craftworks of local women artisans. In the words of our on-the-ground expert, Maryam Kharraz from Tafoukt Travel, immersing yourself in these experiences helps “showcase the diversity and creativity of Moroccan women, highlighting their skills, craftsmanship, and entrepreneurial spirit”. Pay a visit to women’s cooperatives as you deep-dive into the Berber heritage of the Sous region, and even try your hand at crafting a rug or making felt alongside them. Elsewhere, on a journey across the argan forests between Essaouira and Marrakech, visit an argan oil cooperative to taste their products and watch as women make oils and pastes by grinding argan nuts – their efforts at work are truly admirable.

Crushing argan nuts in Morocco

Explore contemporary artisanal crafts in Malawi

On a multifaceted luxury tour of Malawi, which covers all the classics from sprawling tea plantation visits to Big Five-spotting in National Parks, you could also choose to visit Likoma Island’s Katundu artisan workshop: set up in an effort to empower local women (and currently employing women as 75% of its workforce), it produces stunning artwork and soft furnishings inspired by its surroundings. It embraces bold, contemporary design as much as it supports ethical employment and high-quality artisanal production. The workshop itself is located on the serene shores of Lake Malawi, and a visit to its grounds is both awe-inspiring and filled with wonder, as you browse the striking chandeliers, colourful textiles and decorative pieces.

Uncover more crafting traditions in Ghana

Traditional craftwork is also a thriving and inspirational aspect of Ghanaian culture, which you could explore through the Sirigu Women Organisation for Pottery and Art (SWOPA) initiative: through a series of remarkable activities, it not only keeps traditional crafting skills alive, but has also enabled local women to find pride in their work and a sense of identity through preserving their deep-rooted heritage. From pottery and wall paintings to intricate basket-weaving, the crafts of women in the village of Sirigu are truly breathtaking to behold. They show the ways in which these women are contributing to their economy, having provided healthcare and education to many children through their dedicated work.

Wall art in Sirigu village, Ghana

Learn about the lives of indigenous women in Ecuador

Whether you’re visiting Ecuador for its historic capital Quito, lush outdoor treks across the Andes and Amazon rainforest, or wildlife-spotting in the Galapagos, make a point to also partake in community-oriented activities that will elevate your trip and help form even more unforgettable memories. A real highlight to any trip is a visit to the Imbabura province’s Runa Tupari, a project created by two women to help promote the empowerment of local indigenous women, who for generations have faced oppression and mistreatment. According to our local expert, Carolina Mora from Tucaya Travel, these women are trained and educated to be able to earn an income and gain autonomy, enabling them to leave their violent lives; and as you learn about their day-to-day, you’ll experience the beauty of their traditional dance, cuisine and craftwork. While in Ecuador, you could also visit a local community at the foothills of the Chimborazo stratovolcano, where the welcoming local women will teach you the art of alpaca shearing and wool-weaving – the experience is nothing if not compelling, and displays a fine level of skill and expertise.

Celebrate female life and projects in Brazil

Put a unique spin on your trip to Brazil, by planning an itinerary centred around the authentic experiences and perspectives of its women. According to our local expert, Polyana de Oliveira from Viare Travel, “women are a majority in the tourism industry in Brazil, but they’re not often portrayed as protagonists – we wanted to create an itinerary where women truly own the experiences and aren’t just part of the attraction”. Community-based and managed by women-led groups, the activities on this itinerary are truly immersive: enjoy lunch at the Belém Islands Women’s Movement headquarters, learn about bio-jewellery-crafting in the Amazon, take a female-led Bahian cooking class at the Cooks & Candy Association in Salvador, dive into clay-making, painting and ceramics with local women in Jequitinhonha, and learn about the initiatives of the Favela Orgânica project in Rio. Best of all, partaking in these experiences means you’re directly helping provide finances and female ownership of local projects.

Ceramic dolls in Jequitinhonha, Brazil

Learn about female empowerment projects in Sri Lanka

A discovery tour of Sri Lanka is always guaranteed to be filled with insight and intrigue, ticking all of your senses multiple times over. Incorporate educational experiences that shed light on the empowerment of local women, and you’ll get to explore yet another incredible facet to this country: venture into Kandy, a vibrant city surrounded by mountains, to join a market visit and cooking class hosted by Ruki, a local woman who works closely with her village community, offering its women employment opportunities and a chance to improve their English – the chance to learn new cooking techniques is just a cherry on the cake as you partake in this one-of-a-kind activity. As well, on a spice-infused journey between Kuliyapitiya and Habarana, you could seize a chance to visit a village coconut oil processing plant, where the local women can be seen at work, skilfully peeling raw cashew nuts.

Visit a local women’s centre in Rwanda

Trips to Rwanda are often associated with gorilla tracking tours deep in the volcanic Virunga Mountains, but you’d be remiss not to combine these with equally-enriching city experiences. At the Nyamirambo Women’s Centre (NWC) in the country’s capital, Kigali, find out how local girls and women are given an opportunity to learn practical skills that will help them support each other and succeed in life. The centre was created by 18 Rwandese women in 2007, with a vision of addressing local gender-based violence, inequality and discrimination; so far, it has helped train more than 5,000 women in the arts of embroidery, weaving, hairdressing, tour guiding, entrepreneurship and more.

Rwandan woman weaving a basket

Make it happen

If the above suggestions have inspired you to learn more about the lives of women around the world, speak to one of our local experts today.

  1. Morocco
  2. Malawi
  3. Ghana
  4. Ecuador
  5. Brazil
  6. Sri Lanka
  7. Rwanda

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