New Delhi: No matter how massive the campaign for gender equality is, women around the globe continue to face attacks, especially when they are travelling alone. Meanwhile, International SOS, the world's leading security and health services company, ramps up again following the pandemic to put a focus on female travellers' health, safety and security, as they travel.
As part of this initiative, International SOS will be organising a series of live streams that address the growing issues and challenges that women face when travelling and help female travellers make informed decisions about their destination and how to stay safe while travelling abroad.
According to a recent survey, 88 per cent of women say they were somewhat threatened or felt unsafe while travelling; and 12 per cent of women have been physically attacked or threatened. Female traveller concerns are once again coming to the forefront as worldwide business and leisure travel bounces back.
The first episode -- "Holiday Special: Health and Safety Tips for Women" took place on December 13 featuring International SOS experts, including Dr Chan Yanjun, Medical Director, Singapore and Malaysia; Pei-Lynn Foo, Certified Clinical Psychologist; and Noriko Takasaki, Security Director Assistance, Asia. The panel provided advice and guidance that is essential for any traveller but specifically tailored for female travellers and their employers. There will be 10 live streams in the series and they will be available to view on the International SOS LinkedIn page and Facebook page.
Dr Chan Yanjun, Medical Director, Singapore and Malaysia, International SOS, shared, "Travel, either domestic or international, poses risks for anyone, but particularly women. All travellers should plan carefully to ensure their health and safety while away, but this is especially important for women, particularly those travelling solo. It is important that travellers are well informed when making decisions on where and when to journey. In addition, employers need to assume a greater responsibility under their duty of care for female employees who are undertaking business-related travel."
Another survey from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) highlighted that for women business travellers' safety is a widespread concern. The survey of 503 female business travellers discovered that 83 per cent of respondents have experienced a safety-related concern or incident and that 90 per cent indicated that safety concerns influenced how they spent their free time on business trips. Similarly, an SAP Concur survey of 7,850 business travellers in 19 markets revealed similar findings, with 75 per cent of female business travellers suffering harassment while travelling and 58 per cent changing their plans because of safety concerns.
Dr Chan continued, "We recognise that in addition to the safety, medical and security needs of all travellers, women may also have a few extra concerns they need to be mindful of, which is why we have developed this empowering series in a bite-sized and easily digestible format. Through our series, we hope to raise awareness of women's health, safety and security issues while travelling to help ensure their trips are safe and successful. Make sure to bookmark our LinkedIn and Facebook pages so you don't miss any of the upcoming live streams."
Topics that will be covered during the series will include how to stay safe as a female traveller; how to deal with extreme weather conditions or natural disasters; what to do if you get sick or injured while travelling; how to research a destination before travelling; tips for reducing risks of violence, harassment and accidents during international travel; mental well-being; pregnancy and unforeseen risks; self-defence tips; hotel safety tips; holiday shopping safety tips and more.
Pei-Lynn, added, "Moreover, the challenges and stressors experienced by women travellers can contribute to a decline in their mental health. Hence, awareness, preparation and proactive management go a long way not only in ensuring safety and security but in sustaining women's mental wellbeing."
"Security environment is evolving dynamically. Although female travellers can face unique security risks when abroad, it is about mitigating those risks prior to departure as much as possible that is key. It is important to properly research travel destinations and become familiar with local laws and customs to help avoid adverse situations. You should also be aware of the current geopolitical situation, weather conditions, ongoing crisis, etc., as well as potential increased risks during the holiday period, such as petty crime, online/Christmas scams and crowd safety, to be fully prepared. We hope following the information and tips shared will help women travel more confidently and keep safe," Noriko concluded.
International SOS has provided some travel tips to help minimise risks and assist women to make their journey safe and enjoyable including:
Be aware of cultural norms and laws: Researching all travel destinations prior to arrival is crucial, even if it is just for a night or a quick layover. The most important information to know about a location is what the cultural norms are, this is often shaped by the religious majority in the country.
Be culturally sensitive to dress codes : Many countries have different ideas about how women should dress and behave. People will make assumptions about you based on what you are wearing. Even if you don't agree with particular customs, it will make your trip more enjoyable if you respect local expectations.
General safety advice: There are some general safety suggestions that travellers can employ including, travelling during daylight hours; don't wear expensive jewellery on obvious display; remembering that handbags, clutch purses and bum bags can be easily stolen; and last but not least, if you are feeling particularly nervous in an unfamiliar city, make sure to maintain contact with a friend or relative who can keep an eye on you is crucial when travelling alone. Keep that individual informed of your location and give them a broad rundown of your plan.
Health concerns when travelling : Take enough regular medication, feminine hygiene products and contraceptives to last the entire trip.
Trust your gut instinct: One of the most important tools we all have is our instincts. Your gut instinct is the one thing, when travelling, is your most useful tool. If something feels not quite right, listen to that little voice and remove yourself from the situation.