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#MeToo movement looks to November midterms

Brett Kavanugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court over the weekend was met with loud opposition from many, especially those who support the #MeToo movement; because it showed that their painful stories were still not believed and appeared to have no relevant impact where it needed to.

Kavanaugh who in his hearing claimed he was the victim of character assassination amidst very strong, sexual assault allegations from Dr Christine Blasey Ford was confirmed in a narrow 50-48 vote, that saw him promptly sworn in at a private ceremony, by Chief Justice John Roberts and the man he will replace, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, thereby cementing his lifetime appointment as a Supreme Judge in the United States.

As  the senators voted on the confirmation of what has to be President Trump’s most controversial nominee, protesters in the gallery shouted ‘Shame!’ and when he arrived at the Supreme Court in Washington to be sworn in as an associate judge, he was met by hundreds of protesters demonstrating on the steps of the building.

Many of those protesters who waved such signs proclaiming  ‘Women must be heard’ , ‘Believe Survivors’ and the most telling, ‘A woman brought you into this world and women will vote you out’, were arrested, and lead down the court steps with their hands in plastic cuffs behind their back.

Many took to their social media to express their disappointment, lively distrust and the questioning of the legitimacy of their legal system, with Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“The anger is real,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned on ABC’s “This Week.”

This bitter political fight became the cultural litmus test for the year-old  #MeToo Movement, which inspired women to speak out about their painful incidents of sexual harassment and abuse, as it collided with the ‘patriarchy of a political establishment dominated by ageing white men’ and received a serious blow.

Prior to his confirmation on Friday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a Democrat who along with her peers staged a last stand against confirming Kavanaugh, warned against what the backlash of such an appointment would mean for the country’s ethics.

“Today, in just a few hours, the United States Senate is going to turn its back on righteousness,” she said. “It’s going to turn its back on fairness and reason. And make no mistake, it is going to turn its back on women.”

With Kavanaugh becoming the 114th Supreme Court Justice, those following the #MeToo movement have set their sights on the November midterms, an outlet, that Winnie Wong, a senior adviser to the Women’s March, explained will allow women to voice their frustrations and be a ‘powerful political force’ for change.

She explained that the people she’s protesting with are ‘fired up’ and ‘enraged’ and said that they were only just getting started in their movement.

Barbara Smith, a psychotherapist who works with traumatized children, is also looking towards the midterms saying, “It’s important to vote to make our voices heard loud and clear”.

The 67 year old from Virginia noted her work and career was centered on helping people and families to find middle ground, however this situation had the feeling of domestic abuse. “Someone abuses their power and then they say: ‘Why can’t we all get along? Why are you so angry about this?’ It’s an issue of power. If we try to lower the partisanship while this group of people has all this power, they are going to continue to abuse it.”  She said.

The midterm is indeed an outlet for many to show that this kind of behavior where they are made to feel shut out is unacceptable and cannot continue.

 

 

 

 

 

The French Airport Passport Challenge (Pt 2)

The first part of my harrowing passport tale took readers through the odd and at times utterly scary moments I experienced while trying to travel from France to England on my Barbadian passport.

That airport experience – and others – led me to realise that passports are not created equal, especially as things are drastically different when I’ve used my British one in the past.

When I left off, I’d just managed to cross the final barrier before being spit out into the busy Charles de Gaulle airport. My next task seemed simple: Ignore the men with machine guns and find my way to the check-in area. Though I had hours to spare and Parisian exploration was suggested, my paranoia heightened. My interest was in the destination . . . end.

After making it to the terminal I rid myself of the “suspicious” makeup brushes. I wasn’t about to go through a strip search in the next wave for some perfect contours.

My pseudo-zen was short-lived. Sniffer dogs and their beefy, no-nonsense looking handlers entered the terminal. I paid little attention, until a dog took way too much interest in my bag. My stomach catapulted from my body and landed on the floor.

Stepford smile!

The dog was called away, but during their up and down trek, both dogs stopped at my bag multiple times. This made one security guard stop for a closer look once, but luckily all was well. Until . . .

Time to check-in.

I would show my passport, then my ticket, and voila, onward to the departure lounge.

Wrong again.

Instead of heading straight to the counters, there was a pre-check of passports. The male and female security personnel were friendly enough. The woman took my passport, peered at me, then my passport again and asked, “What is your business in England?”

With a bright smile, I informed her I was going to live as I was a citizen. For a reason I couldn’t get yet, she didn’t like this answer and asked me for proof. I showed her my expired British one, and as she started to shake her head, I wondered briefly if I was going to be stuck in France till ‘Wheneverary’.

She questioned me about why I didn’t use my British passport to travel. In this moment I tried to keep my head as the answer seemed obvious enough, “Because it’s expired and I’ll renew when there.” She didn’t like this answer either and explained that they preferred if British citizens travelled on British passports. Who are they?

In this moment the Caribbean woman in me tried to take hold, but I managed to keep most of the edge out of my voice as I explained how expiration works . . . again. None of this mattered. I was told to wait on the side while her colleague made a call.

“We have to make sure it is okay to let you through.” she said to me.

Stepford smile baby. Stepford smile.

Final part: Visas, weird questions, and how many checkpoints are there?

Women taking over business travel

I am not a techie, but over the years I have learned how to incorporate basic technology into my day-to-day activities because it is imperative for communication and the work that I do.

 Statistics indicate that business travel and face-to-face meetings are still the preferred choice for many companies despite the technologies that exist to cut down on the travel.  Statistics from reports indicate that there were 514 million business trips taken last year by Americans alone which infused $424 billion into the US economy.

As the tide changes and women are taking on more prominent roles in various male-dominated businesses it’s easy to understand why many who prefer face-to-face meetings are women. Women are more focused on building strong bonds with business partners and bringing personable aspects to networking. Women thrive on connections. Men are typically more focused on getting the job done and keeping business, business.

Women and millennials now dominate business travel. Research conducted by the Upside Business Travel, in Washington, has determined that half of all North American business travelers are women and are much younger than men doing the same-  half of business travelers are less than 45.

Additionally, young millennials and women are learning to find more enjoyment while on their travels and are far more likely to mix business and pleasure by combining a work trip with leisure activities. They are taking more control regarding the business agenda and budget during their travels. Mixing business with leisure results in better productivity.

Jay Walker, CEO of Upside Business Travel, explains the growing trend in business travel:

“In the past, companies had very rigid guidelines for employee travel, but now we can see employees pushing back and asking for a budget, they’re saying ‘maybe I’ll book an Airbnb instead of a hotel, they’re saying ‘just tell me how much I need to spend, and I’ll decide how to spend it.'”

As the older male CEO’s and executives move towards retirement, it’s fantastic to see women stepping into those vacant roles and inspiring new, more balanced, methods for getting the job done.

Tourist Tips: Surviving a police trap in Vietnam

 

We missed our turn. Even though we had a map, and even though the man at the motorcycle shop showed us exactly where to go. Even though we had read plenty of ominous articles warning readers to not miss that very crucial turn, we missed our turn.

Let me take you back…

It was the beginning of December in Vietnam and my partner and I were wrapping up our six-week backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. We only had ten days to spend in Vietnam and, although there were plenty of cities and villages we yearned to see, we didn’t want to spend our last week of vacation commuting across the country. But, our unsettled spirit for adventure also refused to let us situate ourselves in one place for the entire duration. So, we compromised.

We decided to hitch a short ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Mũi Né, a sleepy beach town where we could relax and explore the southern coast. Mũi Né is a fairly quiet place, but it still seems to thrive on tourism. It’s especially popular with Eastern European travellers, as many of the restaurants, shops and hotels are owned and operated by Russian expats. The town’s main claim to fame, however, is an unlikely set of rolling red and white sand dunes that are popular for dune buggy trips and beautiful desert panoramas.

This natural landmark was at the top of our list and, as we had done in previous countries, we set out to rent a motorbike that we could ride to the dunes and beyond. The streets were much quieter here compared to Ho Chi Minh City, a place where the mere thought of mounting a bike in  the lawless flow of traffic was enough to induce a panic attack. However, I’m a pretty overly cautious traveller (and person), so, naturally, I began looking up license restrictions, driving conditions and shop scams in the area. Low and behold, Google returned a slew of results about the dreaded ‘Mũi Né Police Trap.’

Story has it, that a while back, some Russian tourists were driving recklessly in the area. In response, the Vietnamese police decided to clamp down on unlicensed drivers. Technically speaking, you require a Vietnamese license to drive a motorbike anywhere in the country, but it’s very rarely enforced, as locals prefer to keep vehicle rental businesses alive. The Mũi Né police force, however, took the order as an opportunity to construct a scam using the popular sand dunes as their bait.

Situated near the landmark’s entrance, they pull over non-Vietnamese drivers and pitch freedom at a cost, encouraging tourists to reach deep into their pockets if they want to leave without consequence. As you can imagine, the more fear they instill, the heftier the bribe they’re likely to receive. Thankfully, we knew exactly where these police officers were stationed and had clearly mapped driving instructions to avoid their shady trap.

Here’s the part where we miss our turn.  

We didn’t realize until they were ten feet in front of us, pulling every foreign face to the side of the road. The night before, we overheard a guy at a bar telling a drunken story about how he just kept on driving, right past the police officers who were too lazy to get on their bikes and chase him down. I felt my boyfriend rev the engine and I squeezed his waist as we zoomed on by, hoping the universe would grant us the same fate.

Suddenly, we were the prey of a police chase. And, before you envision Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh whizzing through dense traffic at full speed, reel in your imagination- it was more like Wallace and Gromit going a steady 40 kilometres per hour and whistling an apprehensive tune.

The police officer pulled right up beside us, looked over with a tired face and simply said, “stop.” We joined a small group of scared, helmeted tourists who had also been caught. He first asked to see our Vietnamese license, which of course we didn’t have, so he then proceeded to pull my boyfriend into a parked pick-up truck where he broke down a deal: we go free, with the motorbike, for five million dong (about $280 CAD).  

Now, you’ve probably already heard this travel tip preached by your father or your Lonely Planet Guidebook, but any time you clip in your backpack buckles, be sure to have a trusty stash of emergency doe tucked away in a secret spot. It’s easy to shrug off, but, trust me,  it’s so worth it once your staring into the sweaty face of a corrupt policeman.

We told the officer that we didn’t have that much money and showed him our empty pockets as proof. So, he ordered my boyfriend to drive to an ATM machine and withdraw the amount while they held me as ransom. At the time, we were using a Chinese bank card and, for some reason, it wasn’t working in Vietnamese bank machines. In all other money-related situations we were screwed, but in this instance, that Chinese card saved our butts.

We explained our situation as best we could, and after nearly one hour of broken debate with the officer and his sidekicks, they shook our hands and let us free for the mere price of $5 CAD. I’m still not sure if it was our knack for sweet talk, or just the pure exhaustion of being a tainted trooper that got us off, but I sure was relieved to hit the road again leaving the hustle in our dust.

Sometimes in life you miss a turn or two, but hey, all you can do is reroute yourself to the destination. We did reach the the sand dunes, after all, with a stack of hidden cash in our backpack’s inner pocket and a soon-to-be hilarious travel tale to add to the books.

Why women-led businesses are winning at crowd-sourcing

Looking back over my history in the workforce, from the time I was a teen to my years as a classroom teacher, and on through my first couple of years in my writing career, I’ve only now realized that every single one of my bosses was male. Even at the first two publications I worked at, men oversaw my work and steered the course of the sites and magazines.

It was not until I began freelancing, that I worked for a woman. And now as the editor at Women’s Post, I work for the first ever female boss in my personal history since my first days in the working world, so many years ago, and now honestly feel that my voice is heard and ideas are respected and appreciated.

Despite my own history, women-led businesses are becoming more and more prevalent and new reports indicate that new businesses are experiencing greater success than those led by men, when it comes to finding alternative means to gain capital.

Although women-led businesses still  often struggle to access capital  from a financial institution, to kickstart the business, women have demonstrated that they have a greater success rate finding and using new funding options, like crowdsourcing. Research based on studies by the National Women’s Business Council shows that this has to do with women’s use of social networks and willingness to be more open and personal when telling their stories on crowdsourcing sites such as Kiva and Kickstarter.

Success on Kiva relies heavily on entrepreneurs openly sharing their personal story and offering up as many details as possible to encourage investors to fund a business. Females have proven to be more able to gain funding due to willingness to be honest and open. Additionally, females statistically set more realistic goals on the said crowdsourcing sites, reports indicate.

Many women have smaller social networks than men, yet closer ties to individuals in that network, which means that those in the network are more willing to share info on their own social media networks. Sharing crowdsourcing links so friends, family and acquaintances can get involved in supporting an endeavor, is key, and research indicates that women’s close networks assist with this.

Unfortunately, female entrepreneurs are still seen as  “less credible” and “less legitimate” according to statistics from the National Women’s Business Council. Female investors are even more prone to select to work with male business owners over women. Yet there are millions of women-led businesses across North America, that , when combined, generate a revenue of over a $1 trillion, which means that the success rate of female entrepreneurs is on the rise.

The NWBC has determined that women entrepreneurs using Kickstarter were, on average, 9% more successful than men. Women account for 31% of users on the crowdsourcing platform, as well. Mentoring is also something that females are statistically more willing to seek and offer, which has proven to increase success rates at female-led businesses and promote a happier workplace.

What are your thoughts regarding the struggle women have to gain capital from financial institutions.? Share your thoughts and stories below.

 

 

Making time for you: The value of ‘me time’ and the sanity saver that is girls’ night out

This past weekend my friends and I had a girls’ night. It wasn’t anything wild, just a fancy dinner out on the town, sans kids. Every time we do this (which is never often enough) we promise to make it a regular occurrence – once a month is the goal. Of course, that never comes to fruition.

After each girls’ night, I always feel rejuvenated; and I’m not the only one to notice my improved mood. My husband, kids, and probably even the pup notice as well. My friends say the same thing, and it’s really no surprise why-hanging out with friends, good conversation, a fancy meal that you don’t have to cook or clean up after, and getting to eat while the food is still hot – it’s a dream scenario when you’re a mom.

So, why don’t we make this a priority?

There are a myriad of reasons to not make or keep plans with friends: one of the kid’s is sick, there’s too much to do around the house, the family wants to go on an outing and you don’t know if you’ll be back in time.

Not to mention that it really is hard to get out. One of us may have to stay late at the office, another has a deadline to meet but can’t get it done until the kids are in bed. Some of our husbands do shift work, so coordinating schedules between the group or even just between two or three of us can seem like an insurmountable task.

Then you need to be “in the mood”. I’m exhausted at the end of the week and usually want nothing more than my pajamas, a movie and a glass of wine as my big Friday and Saturday night plans.

There is also the fact that most of us see each other regularly anyway because our kids happen to be friends, we live close by, and are frequently meeting up outside, going for brunch or having play-dates.

The difference is, that kind of socializing isn’t about us – or at least not just about us. In these scenarios we’re wrangling kids, playing referee or constantly being interrupted. It is not relaxing. No conversation is ever completed. And if you’re the one hosting, you can pretty much expect to be cleaning up and re-organizing all the toys for the rest of the week.

We are better people, mothers, wives, workers and friends when we nurture our own needs. This includes taking care of both our physical and mental well-being. Go for that run, get a pedicure, or indulge in a luxurious bubble bath and truly take time for you. Schedule “me time” into your calendar. By making this a priority, will increase your happiness and decrease your stress and give you a needed boost of energy to take on the challenges and demands of motherhood.

Moms – and women in general – have the tendency to put others before themselves. We will arrange play dates, play taxi driver to and from activities, help with homework, cook multiple meals to meet everyone’s tastes, but we won’t stop to carve out time for ourselves. That is a big problem.

This is why girls’ night is different. It is about us. We can talk, confide, commiserate, joke, and brag all we want. We get dressed up, we feel good, and the effects are long-lasting. If you’re a mom who hasn’t made her own friendships a priority, you surely know what I’m talking about.

Let’s try to do better; foster our own friendships, make socializing a part of our routine. As a mom, you need to have a social life outside of your kids’ activities, and one that doesn’t always involve the whole family. I know it clears my head and leaves me feeling refreshed, confident and ready to take on any challenge that lays ahead.

 

Woman of the Week: Jennifer Turliuk

Jennifer Turliuk is the CEO and founder of Makerkids, the first and largest facilitator of programs, camps, and parties focused on the idea of creation rather than consumption. Topics like coding, minecraft, and robotics are explored through fun and games, in hopes of encouraging more young people to take interest in STEM-related careers. She began coding at the age of 12 and has dedicated her life to opening up possibilities for young people interested in being creators or makers.

Women’s Post spoke with Turliuk about entrepreneurship, Makerkids, and being a DJ for Redbull:

Question: When did you learn you had a passion for business and entrepreneurship?

Answer: I realized I had this passion early on. I started my first business at age five. It was called Jenn’s Card Company and I made greeting cards

When you finished school, it looks like marketing was your path. What drew you to that part of business?

I love marketing because I believe it can make a huge impact on society. Everything from what products and services we buy, to who we select as leadership, to what we believe – comes down to marketing

Why change and found Koru Labs?

I found myself dissatisfied in the corporate job I took and I wanted to do something meaningful. Marketing has continued to be part of all of my roles though.

As an entrepreneur, have you ever experienced challenges as a woman? If so, how did you push through them?

Yes! I’ve been hit on by men who I thought I was meeting as potential mentors or investors. I’ve been told by organizers, after being selected for a prestigious speaking opportunity or award, “And it’s great that you’re a woman.” I hated that they insinuated that a major reason for selecting me for the opportunity was my gender. Even though it probably wasn’t, them saying “And it’s great that you’re a woman” made me feel as though it was and made the accomplishment feel false or hollow. I pushed through it by realizing that if an award or speaking gig is a great opportunity for my business, I should take it regardless of what the organizers happen to mention about my gender. Why bother to bring up gender? I want to be selected for things because of my accomplishments, not the body type I was born with.

How did Makerkids come about?

When I was 12 years old, I was being bullied and was disengaged at school. Then my teacher said that for my book report project, I should make a website, so I taught myself how to code, and made a website about Harry Potter. A few months later I found out my website had hundreds of thousands of views and was featured in a magazine. This was a very empowering moment for me. Suddenly the bullying didn’t impact me as much, and I became more engaged at school. Later on, I was selected for a program based at NASA called Singularity University, where I learned how to apply technology to education. It was afterwards that I got started with MakerKids, with the goal of helping more kids have transformative experiences like I had as a kid. We’re excited that thousands of kids have gone through the programs and some have started businesses, been featured on TV, and had positive mental health outcomes.

Why is it so important for young kids, young girls especially, to be exposed to the “maker” philosophy?

Studies show that kids decide between ages 7-12 whether or not they’ll consider STEM as a future career option. A positive exposure to STEM experiences is the key.

 How has Makerkids evolved over the last four years? What’s next?

MakerKids has grown from teaching five kids per week in 2013 to 500+ kids per week in 2018. We won the NextGen in Franchising competition at the International Franchise Association as the next top concept in franchising. We learned about the IFA competition and many other opportunities through the Canadian Franchise Association (shout-out to CFA) who have supported us and helped us grow. What’s next? More locations!

 Bria mentioned you DJd for Red Bull? When, why, and how!

Haha, I DJ’d for them for a mini-sticks tournament in Kingston once. I was on top of their Red Bull truck. Very fun! I used to be a DJ in university, DJing up to four times a week.

How have you helped other women?

I mentor other female entrepreneurs, and also many girls go through our programs and benefit from them.

What are you reading right now?

Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave & Creative Life

Allowing employees to work remotely increases productivity

The modern business model includes more flexibility for the worker. Larger companies are providing a certain number of days in which an employee may work from home if they wish. This allows workers to avoid potentially long commutes every once in a while, starting the day fresh in a comfortable environment.

But, is this more productive?

Productivity is always high in an employers’ priority list, but the old-school thinking that employees should be at work for a certain time and leave at a certain time, sometimes just doesn’t work with the way people are being brought up. In this digital age, post-secondary educators are paving the way for hybrid learning — and working. Students should be in class, but also have an option to listen to seminars and take quizzes online from the comfort of their home. As long as the work is done — the grades reflect it. And yet, when it comes to office work, some

A 2017 FlexJobs study of 5,500 people found that a work-life balance was critical to the productivity and success of a company. Of survey respondents, 62 per cent said they have left or considered leaving a job because of the lack of work flexibility. An even higher response, 66 per cent, said they were more productive working from a home office as there are less interruptions from coworkers, fewer distractions, less commuter stress, and they are removed from office politics.

Technology is also a significant factor. Teleconferencing, email, text, and even the traditional phone call ensure employees are never far from their work. Telus Inc. began allowing employees to work from home part-time, something employees need to earn through high-performance and a history of productivity. According to reports, 92 per cent of staff believe the program has been successful for them and 98 per cent said it improves how they view the company.

A Global Workplace Analysis found that having the ability to work from home is also an economically-sound idea. They say that 78 per cent of employees who call in sick do so because of family issues, personal needs, or stress. Having the ability to work from home reduces time employees will take off for these reasons. It’s also good for an employees mental health, as it allows them more time for themselves before, and after work. They suddenly have the freedom to go to the gym or do some yoga, eat a proper breakfast, and even listen to music at the volume they want. All of these things may seem small, but having time for yourself, even if it is the extra 45 minutes it takes you to commute into the office, makes the world of difference in terms of productivity and focus.

Work flexibility also makes it possible for women to get ahead in their career, especially considering the challenges of both motherhood and the symptoms of our monthly menstruation cycle. Women tend to deal with a lot emotionally, and while this does not interfere with their ability to do their jobs, it can impact the number of days they take off work. For new mothers especially, having the ability to work at home while your child has the flu or if you have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the afternoon would allow for a more consistent career trajectory.

There are, of course, some challenges in having employees working from home. First of all, the job itself must lend itself to remote telecommuting. It is not for everyone — an employee must be independent and self-directed in order to be productive while without guidance. Trust is also a big factor. A third of employers don’t trust their employees to work while not in the office, and this kind of relationship can lead to micromanaging and acts as a detriment to productivity.

Personally, I think a hybrid model is best, in which an employee is allowed to work from home, but they must be in the office on certain days of the week in order to connect with their bosses and coworkers face to face, attend meetings, and collaborate on projects. Even two days out of five spent working remotely would do wonders for morale, mental health, and productivity.

Perhaps it is the millennial in me, but this business model is the future. City planners are constantly urging businesses to be flexible, as transit overcrowding and congestion on the roadways leads to wasted hours of time during the day. Why not listen to them and make some slight changes for the betterment of your office environment?

What do you think? Do you allow your employees to work from home every once in a while?

Is all female travel the way to go?

By Sinead Mulhern

Of all my trips exploring Ontario cottage country, one particular weekend with my best girl friends stands out. Now that I’ve just left Canada, I’m sure I’ll value these memories even more in the months to come. The girls who I grew up with were – and continue to be – a boisterous, foolhardy crew and so when, in our early twenties, one of us suggested a canoe camping trip, the idea took hold. We crammed our gear into the truck, drove north, packed the essentials into two silver canoes and paddled through the waters of Pointe au Baril in Georgian Bay. That weekend, we chopped wood, built raging fires, constructed a tarp shelter to weather stormy hours and cracked cans of beer as we dipped our paddles into the bay, our battered muscles moving the canoe forward.

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Trips like this and others that followed lead me to strongly feel that all-female trips are an experience like no other. Whether travelling with a group of lifelong friends or meeting a pack of adventurous women halfway across the globe, the benefits of exploring with other women are not in short supply. Cement-strong bonds form fast when exploring unknown territory plus instances of everyday sexism are fewer. This in turn affords the space for female travellers to move confidently and develop necessary travel skills. There’s the fact too that some women simply prefer to travel in an all-female crowd.  

I’ve been lucky to have always had a band of lady friends eager to accompany me in my adventures. My crew from childhood also experienced not just cottage country but the nation’s capital, Toronto and Alabama. When I visited a friend in Brazil, I quickly became pals with her two best friends as we road tripped up the northeast coast for a beachy weekend. In 2016, a close friend and I flew south to see the third woman in our troop who had recently become a Colombian transplant. There, we chatted about relationships and early career goals and raided each other’s suitcases. We went to a Caribbean island laughing over boozy coconut cocktails by turquois shores and commiserating over sunburnt skin at night. These memories, to me, are priceless.

Not every woman with a case of wanderlust has an all-girl group on board. What then? Those curious about travelling the globe are spoiled in 2018 – not just for choice but for style of travel. If my personal experience sparks envy, know that many travel companies have stepped in to do the heavy lifting. If spending the next vacation abroad surrounded by a like-minded sisterhood sounds appealing, know that cementing plans is just a matter of finding the all-girls-club that fits.

WHOA Travel is one-such example in the sea of female travel groups. The boutique adventure company is founded by Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton who stepped aside from their careers after an adventure in Kilimanjaro. They inspire women around the world to step outside of their comfort zones by booking one of their tours. Adventure Women is a company of a similar concept run for women by women. Its focus is to take other adventurous ladies on active trips for once-in-a-lifetime experience. Collectively its organizers have been to 65 countries. In other words: they know their stuff.

For the woman who craves solitude during the day with a little company later on, all-female hostels and hotels are a smart choice. Hostelle, for example, is a wise play on words “hostel” and “elle” to indicate that this place is for women and girls only. Started by Bianca Brasdorp, this Amsterdam abode is a comfortable zone for any woman – backpacker or business tripping nine-to-fiver – who finds herself in this corner of Europe. Closer to home, Canada’s capital also sets a positive example with Barefoot Hostel, a space which, since 2016, has been inviting to women of all ages and backgrounds. These are just a few. Whether a woman is looking for beach glamping or a rigorous trek, there’s an all-female crowd waiting. She just has to look.

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My friends and I packed up and canoed down the river well before dawn. We arrived home our feet black from going barefoot all weekend and our air-dried hair wavy and clinging to the smoky campfire smell. That trip was one for the books: I became closer with those girls and learned how to make a roaring fire. Since then, we’ve moved farther first to different cities and then countries. At the time, it was a simple long weekend away. Now that we’re dispersed, I think back on that trip as a cherished memory.

 

Reforms allow women in Saudi Arabia to be entrepreneurs

The government of Saudi Arabia announced Sunday women will be able to start their own businesses without permissions of a male guardian. The announcement was made over Twitter by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, saying “No need for a guardian’s position. Saudi women are free to start their own businesses freely. #NoNeed.”

This degree is part of prince Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision3030 plan, which aims to alter the economy so it isn’t so reliant on oil. To do this, the prince hopes to reduce female unemployment in the country and raise the number of women in the workforce from 22 per cent to 30 per cent.

This announcement is intriguing and somewhat startling for a society that has oppressed women for so many decades. Of course, little detail was released about enforcing this new decree and the challenges facing women once they decide to open a business, such as banking, employees, and sales. There is also a lot of pushback from more conservative members of state.

Back in September 2017, King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a decree allowing women to be given driving licences as of June 2018. Since then, a Middle Eastern taxi app has signed up almost 1,000 female drivers in February. Their goal is to hire 10,000 by the end of the year. The Ministry of Labour is also reportedly looking into subsidizing car sharing for working women, as public transportation is so scarce.

Both of these decrees are positive changes to Saudi Arabian society; however, until they are implemented, it remains unknown as to how much of an impact they will have.