Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
Hello, my name is Diane Robert, I am 21 years old and I have just completed a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at McGill University in Montreal.
Where did you get the idea to cross Europe by bike? What is your itinerary?
Since I started my studies at McGill, I had planned to take a gap year after my Bachelor’s degree to discover new countries and new projects. I did not have a specific plan as I wanted to give myself the opportunity to push myself beyond my limits and adapt to different circumstances. With Covid, the idea of going further and further away was replaced by the desire to take the time to discover places closer to home. This, combined with the thirst for freedom and meeting new people, gave me the idea of discovering Mediterranean Europe by bike.
Why did you decide to get involved in an associative project?
I did not want my project to be just a personal adventure; I wanted it also to have a positive influence on people close to me and to be useful to others. Being particularly invested in gender equality issues, I wanted to carry out a project with a concrete impact in this field, as well as supporting an NGO concerned with this issue. Through awareness, education and fundraising, I wanted to participate in the improvement of the economic and social situation of some women, whilst opening the debate on these issues to those around me.
Why did you choose the Bayon School ?
I firstly wanted the funds collected to go to an association whose name and effectiveness I knew. I particularly appreciated the work of the Bayon School and its focus on education, which I felt was the most effective way to have a short, medium and long-term impact on individuals and society as a whole. Within the School, one project particularly resonated with my values and commitments. Your Pastry and Bakery School allows young Cambodian women from underprivileged backgrounds living in the Angkor temple region to have access to quality education and to promote their professional integration at the end of the training. In addition, I had the chance to visit your center during a stay in Cambodia and I was touched by your commitment to stay close to the children, young people and families that you support on a daily basis.
How will the funds raised be used?
The goal is to raise 2,500 euros; this amount corresponds to the complete training of a young woman at the Bayon School of Pastry and Bakery. It includes the student’s food and lodging, all courses and related expenses, school supplies and uniforms, a bicycle to facilitate transportation as well as the monthly allowance.
Why does the issue of gender equality interest you so much? What do you think you can contribute?
Firstly, it is one of the themes that affects the largest proportion of the population. It is also a theme that is often misunderstood or misinterpreted, leading to debates that are often poorly researched and therefore counterproductive. In my opinion, equality is the most basic justice. The courses I have taken on this topic have allowed me to form clear and critical thinking, with the conviction that change is possible, through action but also through reflection. While it is necessary to improve the situations of the most vulnerable people in this regard, I believe that it is equally crucial to raise a constructive debate at the societal level in order to change certain mentalities. I hope that, by sharing quality resources and taking the time to listen to various opinions, I can improve my knowledge on the subject, promote this questioning in the minds of new people and present or support concrete proposals in this direction. This is why I would like to ask one question of as many people as possible that I’ll meet along the way: “In your opinion, what should be worked on as a priority to reduce gender inequality?”
Equality is the most basic justice.
So if I ask you “In your opinion, what should be worked on as a priority to reduce gender inequality?”, where would you start?
Education. I think that we must start by observing society to take into account gender differences in order to denormalize and de-banalize certain phenomena. For example, it is not normal for a woman to feel unsafe in public places just because she is a woman. Street harassment should not be seen as normal and inevitable when a woman goes out. Similarly, it is not normal that a woman does not have the same opportunities as a man to access quality education, stable employment and security. Sadly, these inequalities do exist. I believe that the first step is the actual recognition of these inequalities, the study of their sources and their consequences. Only then can we hope to find solutions to reduce them, or even to erase them. This is what I hope to do by communicating personally on the subject and by showing my commitment to projects like the Bayon School.
What would you like to discover or learn during this trip?
During this trip, I aim to take the time to cross different European countries, getting to know the local populations, eating and sleeping in their homes. By doing so, I hope to understand the many European cultures, which are both so diverse and varied, but yet so similar to ours. I would like to learn from them, from their reflections on their society and on these questions that I ask myself. I would also like to grow, to learn about myself, about my mistakes and my successes, to confront difficulties and to observe how I face them.
Can we follow you on your journey?
Yes of course! I will share my adventures on my Instagram page (dianerobert8) and prepare some other small surprises for you. I cannot wait to “take” you with me, so that you too can discover a little more of Mediterranean Europe, the Bayon School and the solo cycling life!
See you soon!