Four young Dutch women have passed through Hua Hin on a journey through 22 countries to raise the profie of women’s rights and gender equality.
“When we look at our own environment, we see that chances are often taken for granted. The possibilities we get in our home country to study and determine our own future, are denied to women of all ages all around the world. A discrepancy that we cannot and will not accept. It is from this thought that we founded R4WR” The four women –Carlijn Bettink, Lidewij Ponjee, Sophie Van Hoof, and Monique van der Veeken –are founders of the Ride 4 Women’s Rights Foundation, who are now riding their red tandem bicycles across 22 countries in an effort to raise awareness on women’s rights. “Though our travels, we’ve seen opportunities are not the same everywhere, and we can’t take our opportunities for granted,” said Bettink, chairman of the foundation. In every country they visit, they briefly interview women and girls in the cities and rural areas, schools and institutions to find out their stories and give them a voice through the foundation’s social media websites. “We post their profiles on our website.
We always present them in a positive way, not negative, in order to raise awareness and hope.” Bettink said. The women say their experiences are very important to their followers back home, since it gives them a chance to see what life is like for women in different countries with different cultures and backgrounds. Their journey began in Jakarta in early September on two red tandem bikes. Their journey continues through 22 countries across Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia, Eastern Europe and Western Europe in 400 days before journey’s end in the Netherlands. The 14,000km bicycle-journey is their effort to raise awareness on women’s rights and to understand the opportunities and rights of women in Southeast Asia. The reason this route was chosen was because the mission and focus points are of relevance in the countries crossed.
The three focus points, right to education, right to gender equality and right to family planning are relevant starting points. “Though our travels, we’ve seen opportunities are not the same everywhere, and we can’t take our opportunities for granted,” said Bettink, Chairman of the foundation. On 25th October they arrived in Hua Hin, in the evening they there was a meeting with members of the Rotoract club of the Webster University where they discussed women’s rights. Frances Luns was host for the visiting cyclists.
Frances offered them the comforts of her own home, introduced them to local people and groups such as Rotary and Webster University so that so the girls can collect as many information (and donations) they could about local issues related to women’s rights. As an avid golfer Frances was even able to offer them a golf lesson at Black Mountain as an aside to their more ‘esoteric’ cause. After Two days of charging their ‘cycle batteries’, the four progressed to Bangkok where they were welcomed by Soroptimist Club Members.
The Soroptimist Clubs en route will offer hospitality and contact with local people. On 2nd November 2nd the group left on their way to Cambodia. About Soroptimist International: Soroptimist International is committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. Soroptimist International Club of Bangkok has a Facebook page with more information. For more information about R4WR see their Facebook or via their website www.r4wr.org