International Women’s Day with Monique Song
08 Mar 2022
08 Mar 2022
This year’s International Women’s Day focuses on #BreakTheBias, and we couldn’t think of a better female role model to discuss this with than the inspirational Monique Song. As an experienced Overlander, Monique constantly #BreaksTheBias - from facing society’s gender and racial norms to taking on challenging adventures solo - and has become a leading woman in the Overlanding space.
Find out more about Monique in our previous catch up, or read on to hear what Monique has to say about International Women’s Day, what it means to be a female in the outdoor adventure space, and her tips for women looking to take on their next adventure.
Honestly, I’m not a “special day” type of person. Women exist in this world each and every single day, not just on the 8th day of March. I try to live my life to the fullest in every moment. Historically, women are brought up under certain cultural beliefs that limit us in many ways. Every culture has a version of this belief system. Some are more suppressing than others. International Women’s Day brings attention to these issues.
However, in order to have a foundational shift, the work needs to be a continuous progress beyond the special day. It is important to address the gender stereotype and inequality issues on IWD along with actionable plans to make the change.
I’d like to be more specific about “the stereotypes” we’re discussing here. Perhaps women are mostly seen as less outdoorsy - more homebodied. Since the Industrial Revolution, men were brought into factories, leaving women at home with kids. This family dynamic lingered to current times. We still see most women as homemakers rather than “adventurers”.
One simple action we can do is reduce the expectation for women to be a stay home and rather, be seen as a side-by-side companion. I believe this expectation shift will bring women the confidence to step out(side).
I reach out. You’ll be surprised how helpful and supportive people are. Don’t be afraid to ask. No matter online or offline, to brands or fellow travellers.
All the pins on the map I haven’t checked out!
Education! The biggest obstacle that stops us from going out, in my opinion, is the lack of resources and knowledge on the topic of outdoors and overlanding.
How do you take care of the vehicle so it takes care of you? How do you plan your route? Where do you camp? What are some of the necessary gear to make your life on the road easier? How do you keep in contact with the world while you travel outside cell coverage? What about emergency devices?
Questions like such are crucial to get one started. Most women see overlanding as a men's activity and we’re lucky if we get to tag along. By providing this basic knowledge, we’re removing the entry barrier and thus presenting them the opportunity to “do it yourself”.
Often I feel safer travelling solo than in a group. Funny, right? I tend to go more conservative while alone which translates to less trouble or breakdowns.
My tip for those looking to do the same thing is to first identify what you may be afraid of. If it’s knowledge, let’s learn. If it’s safety, let’s be prepared. Basic mechanical knowledge and off-road driving skills can be learnt.
There are several trusted organisations providing these courses. Satellite communicators, such as ZOLEO, are key to keep you connected with the world.
Rebecca Moradoghli, the author of From Sheep To SHERO - Transforming The Face Of Tribal BS. I had the opportunity to meet Rebecca during my early 20’s. During that time, I was struggling with finding my direction in life, going through what was expected of me as an Asian girl, while feeling like a misfit. I annotated her book on almost every page. It spoke to me so loudly that I was left with nothing but awe. The idea that we are allowed to question and challenge the Belief Systems (BS) passed onto us through generations was so profound. Not only have I kept it to heart, but I’ve also acted on it since.
It may seem like I’m going against the grain. But in fact, I’m going along with my own grain. The hardship became less intolerable once I stayed true to myself.
She was the first person in my life through whom I saw “the other option” of life - your own. And I highly recommend everyone who’s struggling to fit in the traditional expectations to read her book.
While I was working in corporate, I could feel the cloud hanging low above my brows almost every single day. The first time I went 4WDing, standing in the vastness, my forehead opened up as the cloud lifted high. Humans are not built for cities. As civilization brings anxiety and depression, we seek connection with nature. Studies show that being in nature reduces stress significantly. I experienced this first hand.
“Awe” is an emotion defined as the feeling we get in front of something vast that allows us to think beyond ourselves. As we know, many mental illnesses originate from a state of stuckness.
My 4WD was the vehicle that drove me out of the bog (literally and metaphorically). He brought me to places I’d otherwise not have known. All a sudden, I am in the presence of this vast world. In contrast, my issues and the noise in my head became tiny and irrelevant.
Being able to bring myself to such amazing places also builds confidence that keeps me going.
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