Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir is a social activist, writer, and a women’s rights advocate — or you may know her as the eldest daughter of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Last November, she launched a travel website called Zafigo — a word play on “safe I go” — which is dedicated to female travellers. Through the site, they can obtain travel guides and information, as well as tips to ensure that they have a safer travel experience.
According to says.com, Marina said, “Travel is a very gendered business. Female travelers have very different concerns from male travelers. For one thing, we have to be far more alert to physical dangers than men, and if we travel on business, we have to think a bit more about culture, local customs, behaviours and norms. These concerns are rarely covered in other major travel websites.”
As reported by Gaya Travel, Zafigo was created to make it easier for female travellers in these three aspects:
- Women living in the featured cities can share their experience, insights and first-hand tips with other women travelling to these cities.
- Travellers can discover additional places, attractions, activities and services — all of which would be of interest to women especially.
- Users will become part of a community of women travelling to, and living in, selected cities in Asia and the Middle East. This will allow them to network and share their knowledge and experiences.
Marina explained that the idea to create Zafigo came to her after she faced a dilemma while travelling in Pakistan. At the time, she had thought, “What do I wear for a meeting in Islamabad?” She realised how hard it was to dress appropriately in countries with cultures different from her own, and figured that other travellers faced the same problem as well.
Marina further mentioned, “I realised that there are a lot of cultural stuff you just can’t get information from, particularly like how to dress. I couldn’t find any information because a lot of the websites that cater to women travellers are written from a western point of view and very corporate — they just wear business suits. ”
According to Marina, information about cultural details are important, especially for women. “You’re finding that this type of information is becoming more necessary for women. I met this New Zealand woman minister at a woman’s conference and she said ‘Yes, absolutely, we need a website like this’. She was on a mission to Afghanistan and had the full security briefing from her foreign office. By the end of that she asked, ‘What do I wear?'”
Zafigo is not a feminist travel website. But it is a place where women are provided with they necessary knowledge so that they can travel confidently, safely, and work unhindered.
The website has a simple and easy-to-access interface. To start off, simply choose your desired city. Apart from Kuala Lumpur, Zafigo will also be expanding to many other cities such as Jakarta, Bangkok, Yangon, Manila, Delhi, Islamabad, Hanoi and other cities in Asia and the Middle East.
Whenever we travel to a city that is new to us, we are very concerned about costs and safety. Zafigo definitely comes in handy if you’re looking for tips and guides to travel safer and cheaper!