Busting biases when it comes to travelling, Switzerland has long paved the way for more inclusive holidays—whether it’s for solo woman travellers or simply exploring with an all-women group. This International Women’s Day, we remind you of all the right reasons in which this European nation consistently ‘breaks the bias’. By Bayar Jain
If there’s one nation that has championed the call for breaking gender biases in travelling, long before it was chosen as the theme for International Women’s Day 2022, it is Switzerland. Understanding that more women are becoming adventurous, independent, and comfortable with travelling solo or in all-women groups, the country has on offer multiple women-only activities. Think hiking treks, food trails, history tours, adventure trails, museum tours, and more—all led by female guides!
Switzerland is safe…
The biggest safety net in Switzerland is the presence of a well-connected Swiss Travel System. The country’s well-marked public transport system makes it easy and safe to travel to the remotest countrysides and mountains at any point of the day or night. Paired with self-travel guides, which also include the time it takes to walk from one destination to another, leaves little to no-scope of getting lost.
Should the unfortunate happen though, locals come to the rescue! Not only are the locals friendly and approachable, they also speak English, making it easy to swerve right back on track.
…especially for women.
Switzerland has no dearth of women-centric activities. All experiences—which last from a few hours to several days—are led by women, for women. Aimed at attracting ladies from across the world to holiday in the Alpine country, the tours and guides here centre around the outdoors, encouraging women to get out of their comfort zone in the company of other like-minded individuals.
In fact, Switzerland also regularly rolls out women-centric campaigns and initiatives to reassert its position as a safe space. The 100% women’s only campaign is one such initiative.
2021 100% Women’s only campaign
Kickstarted on International Women’s Day 2021, the six-month-long 100% Women campaign was created by women, for women. Tapping into the increasing interest in adventure sports among female travellers, the initiative aimed at attracting ladies from around the world to a Swiss holiday encompassing new experiences, particularly outdoor activities and mountain sports.
The novel campaign aimed at encouraging women-only teams to scale the highest peaks in the Swiss Alps. Notably, the campaign was not about competing against one another. Instead, it focussed on experiencing the 48 13,00-feet-high peaks together and celebrating victories.
More than 700 women mountaineers (including India’s famous Everest Twins) from over 20 countries participated—and successfully scaled the 48 peaks–as part of this challenge. Their biggest victory? Breaking ground in an otherwise male-dominated sport and creating role models for women to take to the outdoors.
Everest Twins in Switzerland
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India’s renowned twin mountaineering sisters, Tashi and Nungshi Malik, represented India in the 100% Women Peak Challenge. Popularly known as the Everest Twins, the two girls have, till date, successfully conquered Mount Everest and clinched the title of becoming the first siblings to reach the North and South Poles, climb the Seven Summits, complete the Adventurers Grand Slam and the Three Poles Challenge. In September 2021, they added Mount Breithorn and Allalinhorn of the Swiss Alps in the ever-growing list.
The twin’s participation was an opportunity to connect global travellers, especially women mountaineers, and bring them together to discover all that Switzerland offers in its diverse landscape. Their representation inspired more ladies to venture outdoors by participating in high-altitude hikes, mountain biking and climbing or camping—to the extent that the twins were accompanied by two more Indian women, who aren’t professional mountaineers, during their climb to Mt Breithorn!
Mountaineering aside, the twins also explored Switzerland and indulged in adrenaline-pumping adventures like jet-boating and paragliding in Interlaken, the adventure hub; and hand-gliding and canyon jumping in Grindelwald. Amid all these adventures, Tashi and Nungshi Malik also savoured the culinary side of the nation—from traditional Swiss dishes like fondue and raclette to international delicacies like pizza and pasta.
2022 100% Women’s only campaign
Following the success of last year’s campaign, this year Switzerland aims at shifting the focus on creating a world record, 11 women-only outdoor offers, and an inspiring women’s travel hub. The soft launch of the second edition of the campaign was announced on International Women’s Day, that is, March 8, 2022.
Switzerland’s world record
A major focus of the 2022 edition of the 100% women’s only campaign by Switzerland is attempting a world record of forming the longest female rope team and climbing the 4,000-metre peak, Allalinhorn in Saas- Fee. Although the record will be conducted without Guinness World Record (as it doesn’t correspond with their standards), mountaineering experts and project partners claim this mission will be a world record.
To attempt this, Switzerland will be inviting 60 women from all over the world to summit the peak—an ascent that ordinarily takes four to five hours, depending upon weather. Of these 60 spots, 10 are reserved for women who want to summit the 400-metre peak. These lucky few ladies will be chosen through an application process.
This world record aims to reassert Switzerland’s—and its mountains’—position as an accessible and active recreation haven for all women. Not only will it be a truly unique and unforgettable experience, it also hopes to celebrate women empowerment by taking women to the top—literally! The initiative will bring together like-minded people and encourage them to celebrate their achievements. The record-breaking rope will symbolise cohesion and team spirit, embodying the message that ‘together, we are strong.’ Above all, the idea is to create and promote shared experiences among women.
Apart from the record, Switzerland will also be offering 11 women-only activities. These will revolve around outdoor sports and mountaineering—all women-centric and with a female guide. The selected offers will be conducted by the partner Mammut Alpine School (for mountaineering), and Out and About – Switzerland Trekking (for trekking and biking).
Women’s Travel Hub
Switzerland has also developed their website’s women-centric page into a women’s travel hub, which encourages women to travel to the country and to get out of their comfort zones and experience the outdoor life while connecting with like-minded individuals from across the world.