Introducing Natasha Gabrieli: A Pioneering Black Woman Exploring the Globe for Diversity & Inclusion
Meet Natasha Gabrieli, a trailblazing black woman who is passionate about traveling and exploring the world. As a content creator, podcaster, and digital nomad, Natasha champions diversity and inclusion in all of her experiences. Join her as she shares her adventures and insights on how we can all be more inclusive in our travels and in our daily lives.
1: You are a world traveler! Tell us about your journey…what inspired you to travel? Where have you traveled to that you loved/hated?
I always liked to travel, meet different people and visit new places. Especially when I have any excuse to escape the routine and go on a new adventure. Since September 2020, because of everything that was happening with the pandemic and how we were suffering mentally, I decided that I needed a quiet life and to live closer to nature.
The initial idea was that I would live for two months on a beach in Brazil, working and relaxing, and then I would return back to the city. Two months turned into two years in which I traveled along a large part of the country's coast, having the possibility of meeting paradisiacal places, incredible people and finally finding the balance between work, nature and the fun that I was looking for so much. Last year, I was fired from my job due to the economic crisis that Brazil is going through and so I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to do my long-awaited sabbatical year. Since August last year, I have been to countries like Ecuador, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Cuba and currently Mexico. My goal is to get to know different black and indigenous cultures that will complement my work with Diversity and Inclusion.
What do I love and hate the most? The best part of traveling is definitely the connections I make along the way and the amazing people that have come into my life. The worst part is packing!
2: What challenges have you faced along the way as a woman?
Being a black woman traveling alone comes with some challenges for sure. Even though I felt safe most of the time where I was traveling, there are things that unfortunately are inherent in the sexist society we live in. The first one is the harassment women suffer. I feel that in some places there are men who harass women in the streets simply because it's what is expected of them as men, you know? Once on a beach in Colombia, I was even followed by a man who was drunk and it was terrifying.
People always ask me how I have the courage to travel alone, where is my husband or boyfriend? It is still very difficult for some people to understand that women are perfectly capable of doing everything they want without depending on any man at their side.
Another challenge for me is the feeling of isolation and often feeling like the only black person in places I traveled to. Traveling is still a place of privilege and black people continue to be the minority to access it, which often brought me a feeling of loneliness.
And then there are those challenges that once you've overcome them, you can even joke about: I got robbed, I got food poisoning, I had a car accident...
3: You have a decade of experience in the areas of diversity, inclusion, sustainability and public affairs in large global organisations! Tell us more about this! As you have already noticed, I am a person who loves people, so I have dedicated not only my career but my purpose in life to building spaces where all people have the possibility of being who they are, having their rights respected and, above all, having accesses that were denied.
I have my degree in business, but what is business without people? So I specialised in social development and human rights, and for the past ten years I've worked in large organisations with the same goal: to change the world. I know I won't be able to change everyone, but I strive to positively impact and make corporate environments fairer places for groups that are still minorities in decision-making and in power positions.
I discovered that working towards diversity and inclusion is what I was born for. This means supporting people and companies to develop socially, giving opportunities to women, black people, the LGBTQIAP+ community, people with disabilities, the elderly, and people in socially vulnerable situations so that they can grow in their careers while not suffering micro aggressions in the spaces that they are in. Not only do I want to support marginalised groups, I also want to bring attention to leaders and co-workers who live in a society full of privileges, to understand unconscious biases, that prejudices in the work space continue to exist and that we need to be attentive and work hard to break these barriers in order to offer security and justice to those who are impacted.
4: What top tips do you have for women looking to develop their skills professionally?
Women, don't feel alone! Connect with other women, exchange your experiences, fears, challenges and celebrate all achievements. The media and society have raised us to compete with each other, to compare ourselves, and encourage us not to be friends. All this is nonsense. We have to be supportive and be united.
You can do anything ! You have the right to dream, to experiment, to say no, to do whatever you want for your own happiness.
Prioritise yourself, take care of yourself, and don’t forget to always give yourself lots of love.
Lastly, if you can, get therapy and take care of your emotional health. You don't need to be strong and tough all the time. Build spaces where you can simply be yourself, be vulnerable, feel and have your emotions acknowledged .
You will definitely be more prepared to deal with the challenges of your career with an open heart.
5: What are your thoughts on how we can empower other women professionally?
When was the last time you recognised a woman's work? How many women have you hired for your team? Are you the type of person who thinks that women who become pregnant will no longer be engaged in their careers? Does your team have the same number of women as men?
These are some of the questions you can ask yourself to first understand what unconscious biases you have towards women. Recognising these biases helps us to look for solutions to break them and drives us to lead the fight for our own rights.
You can also mentor women at the beginning of their careers, supporting them to discover themselves and face the challenges of the job market. It can provoke discussions within professional and personal spaces, especially with male colleagues, so that they too are aware of how cruel and unfair the corporate world can be to a woman.
And most importantly, we should celebrate our achievements and together empower each other.
6: What is your podcast about? How did you start it and why?
Have you ever realised how many incredible women you have around you? In your social circle, at work, in college... How many of these women have overcome unimaginable challenges and continue their daily struggle every day?
The “Mundo Delas” podcast arose from my desire to give visibility to these women who are part of my life, whom I honor, admire and respect, and who, because they are not in the media or on the covers of magazines, often do not feel special and valued.
It's a podcast to tell stories of real women, for other real women.
7: What inspired your journey as a digital nomad? What advice do you have for other female digital nomads who may be making the shift into this lifestyle?
Have you dreamt of living in geographic freedom, being able to work from wherever you want? Have you had the desire to know other cultures? Have you wanted to improve on a language you are studying? If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you simply want to live a life away from the madness of big city then this is for you too!
My biggest inspiration on this journey are the countless possibilities to choose from, being able to be close to the sea when I want or being able to visit different places and taste other cuisines. It's the taste of freedom, adventure and of course the fun that continues to inspire me.
So plan, organise and go ahead!
8: What funny cultural differences have you encountered while traveling?
I can't think of anything that is specifically funny, but something that caught my attention traveling through Latin American countries is our similarities. The food, the good mood, the passion for music, not taking life too seriously even when there are problems and the creativity in solving those problems. Latin Americans are very charismatic people, full of stories to tell and who are always welcoming everyone with open arms.
9: What do you like to do for fun?
I love to dance! It doesn't matter the pace, whether it's day or night, whether I'm at home, in a club or in a park. If I have the opportunity, I will dance every day.
10: What advice do you have for women who face cultural barriers or may feel unappreciated?
Often visiting a culture very different from yours can cause you initially to be shocked and even feel a type of rejection. It is important that you are open to understanding the different customs, beliefs and specificities of the place you are visiting. Remember that you chose to travel there and so take this opportunity to always learn.
You may find social problems in the country you’re visiting that’s different from yours or beliefs that are not aligned with your values. That's why it's highly recommended to keep an open mind to understand that this is the reality and way of life of the communities in the places you visit .
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