IWTA speaks with Komal Darira – Courageous Change Maker, & Founder Women for World
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We are delighted to introduce you to Komal Darira – Courageous Change Maker, & Founder Women for World
In 2014, at the age of 19, Komal became the first female tour leader for Urban Adventures, Delhi, challenging stereotypes and expectations placed on young women in India, winning awards and changing lives. Now, in 2022, she is a successful virtual tour creator, an enthusiastic proponent of solo travel for women in India, promoter of travel as a career to young people in her native country, and running her own business.
Challenging the Status Quo
Komal studied journalism, was interested in politics and had a passion for learning. She joined the travel industry as a tour guide age 19. She was the first female to show up for an interview & the first female tour guide in the company. No-one in her family knew what a tour guide was, and were not at all keen for her to take on the job, worrying about her safety and the suitability of such a career for a girl, but with the blessing & support of her Grandmother, they agreed to let her try.
Positives, and Negatives
Komal’s first tour was with 75-year-old lady from England and over 4 days the experience changed her life, her perspective of her country and her future! She realised she had a love for exploring, and showing her beloved country to visitors.
Tour Guiding was not without its challenges however, and Komal had to be careful to ensure her own safety, particularly when challenged by men in the industry who resented her presence. She also encountered women who doubted her ability – and has resolutely fought against such stereotypical views.
Fast Forward to 2021
Komal was made redundant as a result of the pandemic, as were so many women around the country. Determined to continue building her career, she started her own business, initially recounting stories of solo female travellers within India, and progressing to offering virtual tours, which started with her and her mother demonstrating Indian cooking from their kitchen. She also began visiting schools and colleges to talk about tourism, gender inclusivity, and working as a tour guide to young people interested in travel.
Komal (and her family) have discovered that those very people who questioned the wisdom of her chosen career are now approaching her and asking her to talk to their own daughters about building their lives, and careers. Her determination and enthusiasm for tourism is infectious and continues to inspire everyone around her.
Women for World
Instead of sitting at home during the pandemic, waiting for it to end, Komal took control of her own future and set up Women for World. It began as a digital platform to post stories of women travelling solo, to inspire young girls, and has developed into a physical travel company & virtual travel platform, taking people to unexplored places, introducing visitors to villagers, exploring the real life of the country. Komal then introduced workshops for young tourism students to teach them about tour guiding.
Komal has been inspired by the determination and creativity of other women, but also some of the men who advocate for women without putting themselves forward – supporting from behind, keeping her positive, and encouraging her to follow her dreams.
Advice to Younger Self & Others
Be more fearless & confident about who you are. Stop being worried about how you look or how you are seen by others. Be yourself. Believe in yourself: if you believe you can do it, then fight for it. Be the writer of your own book.
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