Aurizon's Renee Secher-Jorgensen shares her experience participating in the first UN Women Ride for Rights Challenge.
The reality of the social and economic scenery of Vietnam and Cambodia hit me in the face as I rode through villages on red dusty roads with 26 other determined and inspiring women.
This journey commenced 12 months ago with both a fundraising goal of $3,000 and a serious training schedule that would get me through the 360km ride through regional villages from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Siem Reap, Cambodia. This 12 day 'Ride for Rights' was truly life changing.
The Ride for Rights was organised by UN Women Australia and gave me a daily insight into the work UN Women are doing at the grassroots level in the local communities.
UN Women are providing women with diversified skills to provide additional income, and working with local governments and councils to ensure women are represented on decision making boards.
Cambodia has a number of initiatives to educate the prevention of violence against women and children. The political and cultural environment contributes an additional complexity to the changing face of Cambodia.
The greatest challenge for me was to not feel overwhelmed.
There are a lot of people who are in need of assistance and it is difficult to feel that anything you do could possibly make a single bit of difference. However, the truth is quite the opposite. There are many motivated and courageous people making small but significant differences to people's lives every single day.
I rode with 26 women who are passionate about making a change to women's lives through fundraising and physically challenging themselves.
I met representatives from the UN Women offices of both countries whose every day job is to transform the lives of all women in their country for the better. We are talking about powerful, 'disruptive' and driven women and men working towards a future where opportunities are equally available to all.
In my daily role at Aurizon I have the benefit of working in the Diversity & Inclusion team. I am surrounded daily by research and articles on the benefits of gender equality, and have a close relationship with UN Women through the partnership with Aurizon.
My interest to participate in this challenge was sparked by a conversation with Julie McKay, then Director of UN Women, who presented the challenge to me. After discussion with my support network, my commitment was confirmed.
I am proud to have been part of the first UN Women Ride for Rights Challenge and will continue my support and advocacy for gender equality in both Australia and overseas.
UN Women have a huge job ahead of them - but by opening up this experience to the every day 'supporter' such as myself has deepened the understanding of the impact that is made.