How ZafigoX 2018 Inspired Women Travellers

When trailblazers and globetrotters meet together under one roof...

Wanderlust is something many of us experience. But as women, we’re often held back by responsibilities, self-doubt, and sometimes fear. The latter can be especially daunting, as it’s a very valid concern.

ZafigoX 2018 sought to change that by empowering women through informed travel. Over three days, from 9th to 11th November, the second installment of ZafigoX hosted more talks and workshops than the year before. And this time round, it was a standalone event at The Gardens Hotel, Mid Valley City, KL. (In 2017, it was part of the George Town Festival.)

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, YAB Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail, James Chong

The event is an initiative by social activist and travel enthusiast Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir. ZafigoX 2018’s opening remarks were delivered by deputy prime minister, YAB Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail.

ZafigoX has become known as a space for women to be inspired by trailblazers who have accomplished extraordinary feats. And to connect with other women who share similar passions and interests.

Anita Yusof hugging Hermandari Kartowisastro

Inspiring Talks

After listening to the inspiring speakers at ZafigoX 2018 — all courageous and intrepid travellers — I’m now shortlisting destinations for my next trip. Maybe even travel solo again!

As Claire McFarlane, a rape survivor who is now running marathons on beaches around the world to raise awareness on sexual violence, said at ZafigoX: “Be prepared as it can help you stay safe.” And when you’ve done your preparation and have a back-up plan, you can trust the unknown. “This is the magic of travel. Know when to go with the flow,” Claire advised.

And if you need convincing that anyone, in any circumstance, can eventually live out their wanderlust dreams, look no further than Xyza Cruz Bacani and Anita YusofXyza is a Filipina domestic worker turned internationally-acclaimed photojournalist. While Anita is a Malaysian who went around the world — solo — on a motorbike (after only 3 years of learning how to ride one).

Insightful Panels

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Himadri Gard, Seema Viswanathan, and Gabrielle Tan-Helfman

The panel discussions at ZafigoX 2018 were a chance for women travellers to come together and exchange opinions on a variety of topics. These included: “Overcoming Fear And Trauma To Travel”, “Age, Responsibilities And Expectations: Should These Things Stop You From Travelling”, “What Do Women Want When They Travel?”, and “Women Travellers: Balancing Life, Career And Travel”. The latter had our very own Seema Viswanathan, editor-in-chief of CLEO and SHAPE, on the panel of speakers.

For the full list of speakers and the their talk or panel topics, visit

Interesting Workshops

Beverly Aisha Roach’s self-defense workshop

A few workshops were also held, covering areas of interests such as photography, self-defense, travelling solo in Bangladesh, and road trips.

READ: Why We Should Embrace Solo Travel

Dr Sakia Haque with participants

Lavinia Rajaram and Aisha Menon

A participant asking a question

Mandy Tay with her workshop participants

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir & Iman Corinne Adrienne


Beverly Aisha Roach's self-defense workshop

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, YAB Dato' Seri Dr Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail, James Chong

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Himadri Gard, Seema Viswanathan, Gabrielle Tan-Helfman

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir & Iman Corinne Adrienne