Thursday, September 26, 2019

Zafigox 2019: For Women by Women

Founded by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, ZafigoX, the highly-anticipated two-day annual event was officiated by the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Hannah Yeoh in Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel.

Brought to you by AirAsia and Zafigo, the third instalment of the women-only travel event returned better and bolder with a diverse group of 26 extraordinary women (and 1 man), travel experts and service providers; as well as exciting opportunities to discover new travel experiences and destinations, participate in workshops and discussions, and learn how to travel smart and savvy.

One such a speaker was university student Marin Minamiya who is the Guinness World Record holder for being the youngest person in the world to complete the Explorers Grand Slam - to climb all the highest peaks on each of the seven continents and conquer the North and South poles. She is also the youngest Asian to complete the seven summits.

Coming from a background of many cultures and countries, Marin spent the better part of her childhood and developing years bouncing between Japan and the rest of the world. Her parents eventually divorced. Under such ever changing circumstances, there was period when she was not really sure of who she was. All of this accumulated in a budding desire to hike and climb. What started out as a hobby and past time because an ambition to climb Mount Everest. However her journey wasn't without its own figurative mountains as she was at that time a young teenager without any money or experience.

However rather than twist her father's arm into paying for her expedition, Marin launched into her own campaign of calling up companies for sponsorship and quickly soon after, two Japanese newspapers picked up her story and ran it in the evening bulletin. She soon garnered her first sponsor from a kindly old grandma who also had a passion for hiking and climbing mountains and wanted to support women chasing this dream.

From there, her ambition grew to the point she was climbing every summit in the the Explorers Grand Slam as part of her training for Mount Everest. She has even done near back-to-back climbs, something the normal person wouldn't even think of doing but Marin was anything but normal. She was determined.

One of her most inspirational quotes that she shared at Zafigox was, "Is this Day One or just One Day… I decided it’s gonna be Day One.” In other words, turn the first page of your story and stop staring at the cover. Marin was one of many women speakers that came on stage that weekend to share their experiences and amazing tales.

“We created a space where women travellers can share their stories and help guide and encourage other women to travel with a renewed sense of confidence,” said founder of and Zaf-igoX, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir. “With the barriers they face, travel can be daunting; but through careful planning, it can be safe, easy and, more importantly, a catalyst for personal growth. Women should see the value of preparing for a journey not just physically, but in mind and soul.”

She added that each year, the shared experiences of successes, challenges and new perspectives gained continues to meet with ZafigoX’s goal of inspiring and empowering women to elevate their travel experiences through independent travel.

“On surveying attendees for their feedback, I’m extremely delighted with the positive response to this year’s ZafigoX,” announced Marina. “Incredibly hard work has gone into putting ZafigoX event together, and the enthusiastic participation and engagement of the attendees makes it all worth it.”

Hannah Yeoh also shared some of her experiences as a female politician who is also a mother. “In my line of work, there’s little personal time to do what you like. When you work, you always think about your kids. When you’re with them, you think about work. It’s important for us women to balance work and family if we want to make time for travel,” reflected Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Hannah Yeoh.

“While technology today does help make travel easier, ZafigoX transforms and uplifts all women travellers with its’ forward-thinking ideas. The speakers show that extraordinary bravery lies in every woman, no matter how ‘ordinary’ she may seem. I couldn’t be prouder to support independent safe travel and the inspiration that this event perpetuates,” said Hannah.

Held in conjunction with the two-day event, the ZafigoX #SHETRAVELS Marketplace for women travellers was produced by Sunny Side Up Market in a collaboration with The Row, Kuala Lumpur. Open to the public, the 40 curated vendors included fun and unique women-friendly travel service providers, products and services from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia and more. More than 40 vendors were curated

“We aim to encourage women to explore the world and push personal boundaries beyond what they can imagine. We will continue nurturing an inclusive, supportive community of like-minded female travellers who support one another in their thirst for adventure; and we will be back next year.” concluded Marina.

Onsite exhibits featured fashion travel brand Double Woot and ZafigoX event partner AirAsia’s BigPay. ZafigoX 2019 was presented by AirAsia and Zafigo, supported by Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur and The Row while Astro Awani was the Official Broadcast Partner. Videos of all talks, panel discussions and workshops from ZafigoX 2019 have been made available to the public on

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