Actress-producer Dia Mirza, who started travelling alone at the age of 18, has observed a change in the patriarchal mindset regarding solo women travellers, and she considers it empowering.
Dia took her first flight and went to Thailand along with one of her female friends after winning the Femina Miss India beauty pageant in 2000. What changes has she seen in the society's attitude towards solo women travellers?
Dia told IANS: "A girl does not have to seek permission from a man, or from the society to go out there to explore the world, she just needs her own permission. I think that is empowering. A girl cannot be on her own, comes from a patriarchal mindset. It comes from the mindset that a woman must be protected, they are weak when a girl travels solo, and I mean travelling anywhere - going on a vacation, going to work or to study abroad or anything that they do."
"But there's a shift in social conditioning that allows women to follow their choice to travel alone, travel free," explained the actress.
While her experience was quite incredible, she said that solo travelling is not only liberating for any individual but also helps one understand how to be comfortable in your own company and look after your own self. "Even before that, I used to travel by bus when I was 16. I used to do modelling, travelled from Hyderabad to Bengaluru. I remember my parents used to drop me at the bus depot and told the fellow passenger just to keep an eye on me. I used to reach my destination and call them to say that I am safe."
"But the sense of safety comes from within. It is really of inner confidence. As an individual, you have to know that you can do this... It is inner voice really," asserted Dia, the UN Environment's Goodwill Ambassador for India.
The "Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein" famed actress recently supported the campaign 'She Travels She Hosts' by Airbnb, a company that encourages sustainable travelling and homestay worldwide in 191 countries.