Female Students

Photo by Wesley Carvalho from Pexels

Photo by Wesley Carvalho from Pexels


Whether you have travelled extensively or this is your first time abroad, it’s important to consider your study abroad destinations’ cultural attitude towards gender roles and norms, especially related to women. Some countries have well-defined gender roles that are ingrained in local customs and/or laws, while others are more fluid with their perception of gender. Finding ways to engage with these differences and to learn from them is an important part of cross-cultural understanding.

However, depending on where you go, you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on the culture’s attitudes toward women around gender roles and gender rights. Everyone should consider possible issues, challenges, and changes they may face while abroad regarding societal perceptions of gender, and how these differences may impact your everyday life. Remember that while sexual harassment or assault may be defined differently or not at all in your host country, VIU continues to provide support to students who experience sexual harassment or assault abroad.

We have compiled a list of resources and information to assist you in your exploration for the right Education Abroad program. We also have provided these resources to ensure you can make an informed decision and navigate concerns and considerations.

Information was resourced and adapted from: A female travel guide- Her own way – a woman’s safe-travel guide - Travel.gc.ca, and Study Abroad- safety tips page. 

  • Is it safe for me to go out alone in my study abroad destination? at night? Are there areas or places I should avoid?
  • How are women expected to behave?
  • How are women expected to dress?
  • How do men treat women in my study abroad destination?
  • What are the cultural norms regarding friendship and dating?
  • What contact information should I carry in case my safety is threatened?
  • What forms of transportation are safe for me in my study abroad destination as a female traveller?
  • Can I access birth control, condoms or other contraceptives while abroad?
  • Can I easily access feminine care products that I am used to?
  • What kind of security features are offered in my accommodations (locks on doors/windows, security guard, emergency phone etc.)
  • Research gender roles and their history beforehand.
  • Put your safety first and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Dress and act like the local women to avoid standing out.
  • Be aware of cultural differences, including body language, that may be misinterpreted in your host culture.
  • Talk with other women who have studied abroad to find out more about their experiences.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when abroad, always carry emergency contact information
  • Create boundaries

  • Male peers/companions might want to consider ways they can support the safety of Female travellers (e.g: by setting a good example to younger men and boys;  intervening when women are being objectified or harassed, if it is safe to do so).