WITH A SINGLE FACEBOOK POST A NEW GENERATION OF TRAVELERS IS BORN
In 2014, a female student hatches a plan to go traveling around her own country under her own power – that is, not entirely by herself but with other female Bangladeshis who’d be coming along. The student’s name is Sakia Haque and she’s looking for a travel partner. At first, she can’t find any other Bangladeshi women to join her – the women she speaks with all have a lot of worries and reservations. So Sakia expands her search and reaches out to women around the world. Finally, responding to a post Sakia posted on Travelettes, an international Facebook group for solo female travelers, there’s Corina Tomaschett. Hailing from Switzerland, Corina was in the middle of planning a solo trip through South Asia when she read the post. To date, she doesn’t know much about Bangladesh, except that most of her clothing was made there. But Sakia’s post arouses her curiosity and after a bit of chatting on Facebook, Corina boards a plane and meets Sakia in Dhaka in February 2016. In the following weeks, the two of them travel all across Bangladesh by land and water, including on the rooftops of buses. They sleep on boats under the open skies, go on lots of bike rides along the country’s many rivers and, above all, engage in many inspiring conversations and encounters. Some of Sakia’s friends join in along the way and that’s how the first small group of female travelers in Bangladesh is born.
The story however doesn’t end with Corina’s departure. Don’t forget: Travel changes us. After spending time with Corina, Sakia and her friend Manoshi realize that they have developed a taste for travel. To top it off: They’d like more women to be able to see and experience the beauty of their homeland with their own eyes. Fast forward about six months and Sakia founds Travelettes of Bangladesh, a group that by now has over 46,000 members. Sakia realizes that she sees traveling in a new light. She sees it as a means and opportunity to question the role and image of women in Bangladesh, to give them more confidence and a voice, to pave the way for a more enlightened society. She creates a community to support women, to help convince them that they need to work towards improving conditions in their own surroundings. To reach the general public and to increase the general level of acceptance for solo female travelers, Sakia embarks on a very special trip. She decides to be the very first woman to travel all over Bangladesh and to visit all its districts on a motorcycle.