Why We’re Riding for Women’s Rights, Together

Monica and Jannie are extraordinary people: they are working busy jobs, raising teenagers AND making a big difference in the lives of women and girls around the world.

Having just returned from our Ride for Rights 2016 challenge across Vietnam and Cambodia, Monica was keen to share her experiences with her husband Jannie and wasted no time in registering again for 2017.

As our first couple signed up for Ride for Rights 2017, we spoke with Monica and Jannie to learn about what is driving them to tackle this adventure together.


Q: What inspired you to register for Ride for Rights?

Monica: A quote from Emma Watson in her opening speech when launching the HeForShe campaign in 2014, as Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women has stayed with me:  “In my nervousness for this speech and in my moment of doubt, I’ve told myself firmly, ‘If not me, who?  If not now, when?”

Since hearing this, I have been inspired to take action for gender equality in my life. I wanted to encourage my son to raise his voice in support of gender equality and to show my daughter that she is capable of achieving anything.  This was my opportunity to show them what I believe in and that if you have a passion for something, you can start making small changes

After coming back from Ride for Rights 2016, I could not wait to sign up again for Ride for Rights 2017, this time with my husband at my side.

Jannie: I decided to join Monica in 2017 because of her excitement when she returned from the 2016 ride. She had great stories to tell, and it is a good cause. I am very passionate about ending men’s violence against women and children in particular, and this will give me the opportunity to actually do something about it, and hopefully make a difference to someone’s life.

Q: Why did you decide to do the ride together?

Monica:  There are three main reasons: we both enjoy cycling, we both believe in this cause and it is also a way of spending some time together at a time where we unfortunately do not get to spend a lot of time together as we are based in different cities for work.

Additionally, how can we achieve gender equality if we don’t have the support of men beside us?  As Emma Watson stated we need to engage boys and men to be agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights.

With my husband on board, this will be a great way to show and support my son in growing up to be a caring young man and show my daughter she is capable of achieving anything she sets her mind to.  As parents it is our responsibility to show them what we can achieve by working together for change, because one day they will have to take up the challenge and build on it.

Jannie: I think that this is an excellent opportunity to actually do something about breaking the cycle of violence against women. Women need to see that there are men who support this cause; likewise men need to get on board with the idea that violence against women and children is not acceptable behaviour. Hopefully the funds raised will go a long way in fostering this culture in the communities where UN Women’s projects are being run.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the trip?

Monica: To once again visit the projects UN Women is delivering. Without the great work they do, most of the women in these countries have no support.  We’re also looking forward to spending time together (I know everyone thinks there must be better ways to spend time together). And the cooking class…of course!!

Q: How are you preparing for the ride?

Monica: With my experience in the Ride for Rights 2016, I know that the temperature combined with the humidity, you experience a lot of fatigue. No training could prepare you for this, but it helps to be fit.

I cycle a few km’s every day, mostly to work.  Weekends I leave for longer routes, sometimes I do 50km on a Saturday. I also run at least 3km once a week, to just help boost my fitness level and break the routine.  I have always been active my whole life, but you don’t need to be a top athlete, to do an adventure challenge like this.

I also learned from the Ride for Rights 2016, to work together as a team and look out for one another and to trust our guides, as they know the conditions better than anyone else.

Jannie: Living in Darwin, bring on the heat! Cycling in Darwin I am a little bit more comfortable with the heat and humidity than Monica. As a general rule, I will cycle twice a week during week days, averaging between 20 and 30km per ride, and then go for a longer ride on Sundays, trying to do more than 50km at a time. I also do a bit of sparring with a mate of mine, and then run the stairs once a week. I am planning on gradually increasing my cycling distances in order to get to a 100km plus ride. On my R&R breaks I cycle with Monica, where I get subjected to all sorts of torture like hill training.

Q: What are some of the ways that you have been fundraising to date?

Monica: When I signed up for the Ride for Rights 2016, my biggest challenge was raising the money, as I had never done anything like that before, but Inspired Adventures work one-on-one with each person to help us reach and exceed our fundraising target.   I started early to give me enough time to raise money for this charity.  I decided to keep it simple at first and to just do chocolate sales in the office.

The support in personal donations I received from my family, friends and colleagues was overwhelming, which goes to show that the world is waking up to the fact that we are all in this together.   

To start with in 2017, we have both sent out emails to our working groups and friends for sponsorships and donations. Furthermore we are again selling chocolates at work, which contributes to a fair share of the fundraising.

Jannie: I also plan to do some fundraising through our social golf club, up in Darwin, or maybe doing a sausage sizzle at a suitable venue.

Q: Monica, as a repeat rider – what is your best advice for anyone considering the ride?

I think a quote from Justine Curtis, Founder of Inspired Adventures, sums it up well. She says:

“I’d say take a leap of faith and jump. You are more capable and stronger than you give yourself credit for. Step off the edge and dive in with confidence and conviction. Travelling opens your eyes to the beauty of this world and the people in it. A big adventure won’t be easy, but what you will experience and how you will change physically and mentally makes it all worthwhile.”

I met the most amazing women on the Ride for Rights 2016, which helped making this the most rewarding experience of my life.  It has been an epic journey and I came back Inspired, full of life and confident to take on the next challenge in my life.

You don’t need great riding skills or to be the fittest person out there; you just need passion and attitude for this great cause.  On the first Ride for Rights some women didn’t even own a bike before our adventure, but they gave it their all and cycled with the best of our group. Fitness and cycling experience isn’t everything – it’s determination to take part and be part of a group. We worked together and that made all the difference in making sure a good ride was a great one.

My best advice if you are considering this ride is to challenge yourself as we all have to start somewhere: talk to people that have done it, look online for inspiration. We learn more from trying and failing than we do from success, but only if you own it.

Inspired by the efforts of Monica and Jannie? Join us for Ride for Rights 2017 cycling across Northern Vietnam while raising money for the work of UN Women.