Today interview is with Sophia Khalid, the founder of "Girls Group Holiday" a project that wowed me from the minute I first heard her speak about it. She uses travelling as a way to grow, to build a community and to share with like-minded people. Focused on women of ethnic minorities every travel gets together a new group and new amazing experiences and bonds for each of them.
It is literally feminism in action. Read directly from her.
- What is the Girls Group Holiday and how was it born?
I would describe Girls Group Holiday as the very definition of Girl Power. It’s random women coming together and going on holiday, exploring, learning and relaxing - which is all a lot of fun. But there is also a deeper meaning and that’s to create a sisterhood of women who support other women, to increase confidence in women and empower women to travel. Although all women, from all backgrounds and all ages, are welcome, my specific focus is women from Asian minority backgrounds – like me.
- What do you want to achieve and what is your biggest success so far?
Growing up I suffered from a huge identity crisis, I had very little confidence and just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. At the age of 21, after I completed university I decided to intern in Beijing, China. That experience completely changed my life, it was transformational. I saw the world with a new perspective, but most importantly I saw myself differently. It gave me confidence in myself and made me appreciate myself in ways I had never felt before. After China, I couldn’t stop travelling! Now I want other women, to feel the benefits of travel, especially women from a similar background to me. I want to give women the opportunity to travel in the safety of a group, to have the opportunity to meet like-minded women from around the UK and to help women realise the power that they have within them. A little cliched, but it’s so true when they say that travel is the best investment you will ever make in yourself.
My first trip was in December 2016, I went to Athens, Greece with a group of 15. Since then I have been on 16 Girls Group Holidays to a whole host of destinations including Istanbul, Granada, Bangkok, Venice, Krakow, Lisbon, Malta and Hong Kong. I have had over 70 women from all over the UK join me.
I have had so much positive feedback from the women who have travelled with me, and that is my biggest success. To hear that travelling with Girls Group Holiday has impacted lives is so humbling. I have had women tell me that they feel happier and more positive in life, others have gained the confidence to go on and travel solo or travel with their kids. I have seen so many friendships blossom, and friendships for life created. I love it, it makes me all warm inside.
- Where do you see your company in 3 years? What is the greatest ambition?
In the next three years, I want to continue travelling with more women from across the UK, to go to more unique locations and build on creating more unique experiences. I also want to build other women up to represent Girls Group Holiday as ambassadors.
And now, our "one fits all" questionnaire:
What is Feminism for you
For me, feminism means equality, simple as that. I feel that it’s sometimes treated as a dirty word, and I just don’t understand why. Feminism is common sense!
Which “everyday sexism” (micro- misogynisms) really bothers you?
Street harassment really bothers me. I don’t understand why some men in vehicles think it’s attractive to honk their vehicle horns at women and then make silly comments? It’s so rude, it baffles me as to what would possess a man to do this and why they think they have the right to behave in this way?!
Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?
I can’t remember an exact time when I started identifying as a feminist, I think it’s always been there. I come from a culture where women are often treated as secondary to men. Although I didn’t see it in my own family, I saw it around me, and I always told myself I would fight for my rights and stand up for myself. I wanted to live my life how I wanted to and not how cultural norms unfairly dictate how a woman should live her life.
Who is your biggest feminist role model?
There are so many! One of my major feminist role models is Khadija – the wife of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). When most people think of Muslim women, they think of oppressed women, but this is so far from the truth! Khadija was one of the most successful and richest women in Saudi Arabia at her time! She employed men, one of which was the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and she proposed to him – she was 40 and he was in his early twenties! She was a feminist!
I am also always in awe of other women I meet, either during my Girls Group Holidays or just generally in life. I love hearing their stories and about their life experience. Their strength and courage inspire me.
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
“Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke . . . She will need her sisterhood.”
― Gloria Steinem
It’s all about the sisterhood and women lifting other women!
What is your proud feminist victory?
Marrying my husband! I didn’t think ‘normal’ men existed, especially not feminist ones, they do exist, but they are a rare breed. I’m so blessed that I got myself one, it’s a little victory for me, but an even bigger victory for his mum who raised him to take gender equality seriously.
What is your feminist recommendation?
· Book: The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts
I remember feeling every emotion while reading this book, sometimes sadness and shock, other times empowered, and many times enraged and absolutely horrified.
· TV show: Ugly Betty
I don’t watch very much TV, so this took some thinking, but I did love Ugly Betty, I really loved how she unapologetically defied all stereotypes of what a woman in the magazine industry should look like.
· Film: Bend it like Beckham
I love this film, it’s multi-faceted so I could really relate, it’s got the feminist strand and also the cultural strand.
Find out more at https://girlsgroupholiday.co.uk/