“Today’s woman wants more adventures and new experiences when they travel. They want to give back to society. And some even do volunteer work at their travel destinations,” said Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir at the launch of the ZafigoX2018 event in Kuala Lumpur recently where she announced the key speakers for this year.

ZafigoX, an annual event dedicated to women empowerment and travel, is the only one of its kind in the region. This time around, it will be held in November.

“The driving force behind ZafigoX is to empower women to uncover and realise their potential through informed and independent travel,” Marina said.

“Travelling can be a powerful experience. Many are filled with wanderlust to travel the world, yet have never taken that first step. We’re held back by responsibilities, self-doubt, and sometimes, even fear. ZafigoX looks to change that, especially for women.

“As a woman, travel can be daunting and holds many risks. But with careful planning and education, travel can be safe, simple, and a catalyst for personal growth,” Marina, who is the founder of ZafigoX, shared.

“Travel is a very gendered domain. Female travellers have very different concerns compared to their male counterparts such as appropriate attire and cultural behaviour, as well as safety.

“At ZafigoX, women travellers can share their stories to help guide and encourage other women to travel with a renewed sense of confidence and self-assurance. We want to empower women to take that first step to explore the world and the endless possibilities that come with it,” she added.

Last year’s ZafigoX event in Penang was the first and comprised 12 talks, four discussion panels and six workshops. There was also a women’s artisan bazaar. It was the first event in Asia dedicated to women and travel. It hosted over 100 female participants, and included speakers like Malaysian hitchhiker Petrina Thong, South Korean cyclist Jin Jeong, and Manal al-Sharif who led the “Right to Drive” campaign in Saudi Arabia.

For this year’s event, 300 participants are expected.

ZafigoX 2018 will be held from Nov 9 to 11 at The Gardens Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. It will feature talks by women who travel, workshops on things related to travel such as self-defence, keeping safe, gearing up for cycling around the world and preparing for mountain climbing.

There will also be a marketplace with booths operated by women producing goods and services for women travellers.

New this year are panels and sessions for the travel industry. Known as ZafigoTravelIndustry, this will debut with its first panel session, titled “What Do Women Really Want When They Travel?” and its first masterclass, “Selling Travel To Women”.

This year’s event boasts an extensive list of international speakers, including Malaysian solo female motorcyclist Anita Yusof, Australian rape survivor and women’s advocate Claire McFarlane, Indonesian photographer and activist Hermandari Kartowisastro, Japanese university student and youngest person in the world to complete The Explorer’s Grand Slam (seven summits, and north and south pole) Marin Minamiya, and Malaysian consultant and activist Khairun Nisa Mohamed Zabidi.

There will be talks and workshops, among others, on seeing the world on a motorcycle, travelling for women over 50, trekking and breaking gender stereotypes, travel photography and how to travel with children.

Tickets are available for sale at the following rates: super early bird (until Oct 12) at RM199; early bird (Oct 12 to 27) at RM299; standard (from Oct 28) at RM399; and door sales (per day) at RM249. For more information, visit zafigo.com/zafigox/.