“When I volunteered in India with Raleigh ICS, I became fired up and passionate about gender equality. Within my host village in India I had the honour of meeting many young teenage girls. For many of them, by the age of 18 their fathers had chosen whether they will continue with education or if they’ll marry. The girls had no say in the matter. Some young girls were my age, 19, and were married with children. Their husbands were older gentlemen who cared for them, but they were also very controlling. Seeing young women in this situation broke my heart.
As part of our ICS project we set up a girls group. Here the unmarried teenage girls in the village came and met us twice a week in the community hall. They spent only a few hours with us, but in this time they came alive! They dressed up, danced, got creative and spent massive amounts of time laughing. I will never forget those smiles. Ultimately, the girls opened up and became comfortable to talk about the issues they faced; inequality, sexism, dealing with women’s hygiene, child marriage and having their futures decided for them. These girls taught me more than I could ever dream of teaching them.
The girls wanted change. They wanted to be able to make decisions for themselves and write their own paths, to be independent and follow their dreams. However, they felt powerless, afraid to stand up and make a change in their own lives.
I started my mission with the aim to inspire these women. I want to inspire other girls to not be afraid of the world or to not let anything stop you from achieving your dreams. Some of the world’s most well-travelled people are men, such as Michael Palin, James Asquith and Harry Matsidis. While they are hugely inspiring men, we need more female travellers. We as women are powerful, independent and just as strong as men. My mission now is to empower women to know their full potential.
Ghandi said “be the change you want to see in the world”, and this is me being the change I want to see. I am aiming to inspire women whilst also being the first ordinary woman, and the youngest person, to visit all 193 countries listed by the UN before I am 24.
I have already got started. I am currently in the middle of a 4-month solo trip, ticking off most European countries in the process. I have visited Iceland, Demark, Sweden, Norway and Poland, but there are many more to go. It’s going to be a challenge, but my journey toward is empowerment well underway!”
You can donate to ‘Wandering the world for women’ on Abigail’s GoFundMe page. The majority of funds raised will go to charities Womankind Worldwide and Fawcett Society, whilst 30% of funds will go towards Abigail’s travel costs. Keep up to date with Abigail’s journey on her website.