Published: 21st February 2018
Here's how Nidhi Tiwari is taking women on INSANE road trips all across the world
Who says that women can't handle long road trips? Women Beyond Boundaries is empowering women to take up long and difficult expeditions and brave the dirt track
Do you remember the Indian woman who undertook a solo 5,000 km road trip in Siberia during the peak of the region's harsh winter, in 2016? She was the first Indian to drive to what is considered to be the coldest place on Earth, Oymyakon. Yes, we are talking about Nidhi Salgame Tiwari and she's back with yet another exciting expedition. This time, it's Nepal.
The Founder of Women Beyond Boundaries (WBB), an organisation that encourages women to embark on long-distance journeys, Nidhi is all set for her next expedition and is inviting women drivers to be a part of it through this platform. Her organisation encourages women to undertake extreme overland journeys to achieve empowerment through mobility.
"Women Beyond Boundaries is basically a platform that seeks to encourage women to take the wheel and highlight the fact that mobility is the key to an empowered woman. If women have to be empowered, they need to be mobile, be it in the rural or urban setting. Our academy specialises in extreme overlanding and our intent is to help women build skills because I believe that driving is essentially a skill. The more you practice, the better you get," says Nidhi.
Tough ride: Porsche India had once partnered with WBB for a 20-day expedition across the Himalayas
WBB expeditions have 20 per cent of their seats reserved for participants from underprivileged backgrounds. WBB academy, which is India's first overlanding academy, offers subsidised courses to benefit women from remote areas. "We build skill sets of women drivers to not just be mobile but also own public roads and highways, tough terrain and more. To support its efforts in training and empowerment, courses at WBB Academy focus on overlanding skills. Expedition leadership, on-road and off-road driving skills, first aid, field recovery and repair are our key curricular focus areas," says Nidhi.
Believing the fact that women should not be confined to boundaries, Nidhi also organises extreme terrain drives to bust the stereotype that women are bad drivers. "The stereotype exists everywhere. To me, driving is a skill and is gender neutral. The idea behind this is to train women, who are drivers basically, to have them build terrain skills. When we started WBB, the motive was to empower women, but over the years I've realised that there's a space for men also. Therefore, for our upcoming drive in April, we're inviting everyone to participate," she adds.
Drive away: In 2015, Nidhi drove from Delhi to London in 97 days with two of her friends
WBB undertakes overland expeditions across the globe to not just connect with people, cultures and landscapes, but also provide mobility solutions adopted by women and observe how mobility affects the empowerment of women. "In rural areas, we do something different. We start by researching what rural women understand of mobility, to get a sense of what their mobility challenges are. For instance, in Leh we identified that there are no training facilities for women, like driving schools," says Nidhi and adds, "We also equip travellers with outdoor skills to manage outdoor environments like survival in remote environments, navigation and so on."
And that's not it. Nidhi along with her team trained the local women in Ladakh in extreme overlanding driving to motivate their movement between remote communities. She strongly believes that providing training in overland adventure also opens up livelihood opportunities for women from marginalised sections in areas such as driving, mechanical repair and so on.