PRESIDENT’S MESSAGES

Messages from the President

Dear WIMA members, National Presidents and women riders worldwide! 

I want to thank everyone for their collaboration during these last years, WIMA Officers, National Presidents and WIMA members. The success of WIMA is thanks to all of us working together!

Serving as International President has been a great experience for me, challenging at times of course, but it has brought many new experiences and I have made many new friends. I summarised what I acheived during my three years in my previous post, so instead I want to point out some things that I am especially proud of: WIMA is now finally established in Latin America, thank you WIMA Mexico for being the first to come on board, for sure others will follow, there are a couple of contacts in the pipeline to be handed over to Zara and Mihaela. And in Africa, where we had no division for many years, we are now back with Morocco and women riders in other countries are in touch. We’re now established in the Middle-East, with WIMA UAE. WIMA has established a stronger presence in Asia and Eastern Europe, and our mother division, USA, is on its way up again, yay! In short, we are a larger and more international organisation now than a few years ago. WIMA is old, 70 years old this year, but we are as vibrant and active as ever before – this is indeed something I feel very proud of! When WIMA started in the 1950’s in the United States, women riders faced challenges at a level that doesn’t exist now in many of our member nations – but challenges still exist, and for some of our divisions the situation is very similar or even harder than it was 70 years ago. For me, this is why WIMA is as important as ever.

It is time for me to say goodbye to the official side of WIMA and concentrate on other things in my life. I am very fortunate to be able to hand over to such highly skilled and dedicated women as Zara and Mihaela. In addition, we have two new PR Officers on board, Liv and Lea – would it be greedy to say that this is a team I wish I could have worked with alongside my already great team? At the same time, I’m so happy to step down, step back and enjoy being a member and go riding more – I’ll see you at the next WIMA Rally!

Åsa

Calafell, October 2020

Dear National Presidents and WIMA members,
Please note the update at the end.
I have now served my three years as international president and I would like to thank WIMA Sweden for approving my nomination for re-election. For those of you who were present when I stood for election three years ago, I believe it is important to look back and measure my achievements in comparison to what I set out to do. For those of you who joined afterwards, I hope this will show how I see the role of international president and what my aims are in the future.

In my application 3 years ago, I wrote that I wanted
“to collaborate closely with all our National Presidents to increase connectivity between female riders worldwide, both within and outside WIMA.”

I believe we now have effective communication through a variety of media, where Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Zoom are complementing the more traditional form of communication via e-mail, as some prefer spoken and video discussions. Through these platforms, we’ve been able to reach more riders around the world, and exchange ideas and opinions outside the cycle of National Presidents’ meetings that not everyone can attend. I do take my time to check in with you all once in a while if I have not heard from you for some time and I hope you all feel that you can get in touch easily.

I wrote that
“I am a keen networker and cultural explorer and believe it is very important to find common ground between us all in these uncertain times.”

I had no idea just how uncertain the times would be, I did not foresee the Coronavirus pandemic of course. But with regards to networking and building common ground, I have spent a lot of time networking on behalf of WIMA, building up contacts with other women riding groups as well as with individuals. Over the last year, the major networking was done with Women Riders World Relay, supporting the event and promoting women riders. I strongly believe that women riding groups should not compete but work together. We face a challenging time ahead and I believe finding common ground is more important than ever, and the core values of WIMA are central to this.

Furthermore, I wrote that
“I understand the importance of being available and responding to queries and communications from National Presidents quickly, and of being a democratic President.”

Regarding availability, my regular turnaround for e-mails is a week and nearly daily for communication through Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

As we are all volunteers, I understand that participation in the governance of WIMA is subject to time and availability, but I believe that transparency and democracy requires giving the opportunity for NPs to voice their opinions, whether they choose to or not.

Hopefully we can make good use of Zoom and use it on more occasions than the yearly NPs’ meeting. As the organisation is growing and we are more people in the meeting and have more points that need discussing, one meeting a year is not enough – no matter how long that meeting is.

I also wrote that
“I will represent the organisation with effective leadership and give a positive image of WIMA, at our own rallies and National Presidents’ meetings as well as in contact with others.”

To me, leadership is collaborative and I believe that our constitution is right to give WIMA’s decision-making process to the National Presidents rather than a single person. During my time as International President, I have not had to exercise a deciding vote, which is something I think we can all be proud of. I have striven to always be available at our international rallies both for members and national presidents as well as others. In addition, I have always been available for interviews or talks and have represented WIMA at other events such as Horizons Unlimited and FIM rallies. In my role as International President, I have represented WIMA in interviews for both printed and live streamed media.

“Furthermore, I will work in partnership with the new Vice-President and other WIMA officials to take our organisation forward so that we go from strength to strength.”

I’ve been fortunate to have a great team to work with and we are modernising our organisation as well as expanding it. Together with Israt (WIMA PR Officer) and ChrisMaria (WIMA merchandise), I established a global activity to highlight international WIMA Day and it has been running successfully for three years now. I have worked to develop WIMA’s internet presence via the website together with Karin (WIMA webmanager) and social media together with Israt and Nicole (WIMA’s social media manager). This has led to WIMA being more recognised globally. Collaborating with Pirjo (WIMA Historian) updating the website’s history section as well as the 70th anniversary booklet are projects that are likely to overrun my 3 years presidency period and, if I am re-elected, I will prioritize them during this coming autumn.

“I would continue helping the establishment of new divisions, a process which should not be taken lightly, since many things need to be checked and considered while in contact with prospective groups.”

During my 3 years as IP, nine divisions have been accepted by NP vote. I had worked with these prospective divisions and helped them refine their proposals until their ideas were clearly explained and ready to be submitted to an NP vote. Apart from the women who produced successful proposals, I have worked with around twice as many which currently fall short, although nine are still works in progress. Although this takes a lot of time, I believe it is important that prospective founders understand our constitution well and that their ideas correlate with the values of WIMA. It is a task I take seriously and every proposal brought forward is one that I truly believe will lead to a division that will represent WIMA well. This is why I take time and discuss with Zara (WIMA VP), give feedback, discuss further and give more feedback and ask for references, before asking National Presidents to give or withhold final approval.

Lastly, I also shared my views on
“fundraising for WIMA’s nominated charity”

and I am proud that we have continued to support the Pikilily women in their new form as MJ Piki, contributing with both material and funding to help keep them going, plus giving them visibility on our social media platform as well as in talks I have given. Furthermore, it is my opinion that we should continue this work in all ways we can because it means a lot for them to be recognised by us, a large international organisation. And it is an additional way of giving back to the community of female riders and making the world a better place.

Onwards from here, my visions for the following year would be to continue on the course that I have started. Now that a good workflow has been set for social media, I would like to work towards establishing an efficient way to show our activities on our website (which is also why I have suggested that we appoint a person responsible for this task). In addition, I would like to explore new ways of bringing members together internationally for online chats, tutorials or seminars. As for the growth of WIMA internationally, I would continue networking with groups and women riders. As I mentioned above, I have several ongoing contacts who are preparing proposals for new divisions, including in South and Central America, and I would like to continue my work with them.

I very much hope that you feel I have achieved much of what I set out to do three years ago and I am asking you to vote for me to continue this work for another year.

Thank you!

Åsa Öhqvist

Calafell, June 2020

Update:
After much consideration I have decided to withdraw my application for IP.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have had to change career and take on new academic studies. This means that I will not be able to dedicate the time I think the role of IP requires and therefore I have chosen to withdraw. I know that I will need to work hard during the coming years and I always do what I do wholeheartedly.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give special thanks to Zara Strange, our IVP at the time and current candidate for the role of International President. These last few months have been very hard for me, regarding work and accommodation, and Zara took on the work I couldn’t do in addition to her work as IVP.  She offered me – and WIMA – the same support when my mother had cancer 2 years ago. I have really appreciated working together with Zara over the past three years, in terms of the dedication, experience and the personal support she brought to WIMA and myself. It’s no surprise that WIMA recognised her achievements with the Ellen Pfeiffer Award in 2018. Thank you Zara!

On a final note, WIMA is very important to me and I want to thank everyone for the great collaboration during these last few years. Hopefully, in the future, I will be able to contribute to WIMA again in some form.
Kind regards

Åsa,

Barcelona, July 2020

Winter 2019

This seasons greetings is a video 🙂

Spring 2019

Hello lovely people!
There is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the world of female motorcycling!
WIMA Curacao has just held the very first WIMA rally in the Caribbean and a shade over 80 members had an amazing time experiencing the island’s special nature and culture. I had to miss out due to work, unfortunately, but I eagerly followed the updates on social media and it is evident that our members had a blast. They even held a WRWR ripple relay – a national ride that springs off from the Women Rider’s World Relay.

The WRWR passed through Spain in March and I was happy to be able to take part in one leg, from Zaragoza to Andorra, an amazing experience – probably life changing. For a brief moment, some 150km or so, I was the guardian of the baton – a responsibility that, to date, I share with 500 women and we will be thousands before the baton circumnavigates the globe. Women Power! As the baton has a GPS tracker you can follow it online, it is currently in the Netherlands going into Denmark. If you’re into social media you can see the progress and follow the discussion there as well, the guardians and supporters are posting updates generously and Colette, who is intending to travel with the relay around the world, usually makes a live video every day. If you haven’t yet signed up to ride a leg, do! You won’t get a second chance to be part of the first WRWR!

Furthermore, I have some very exciting news from Wima World! As a result of extensive networking we can now welcome three new divisions:
I am very pleased that we have finally reached Sweden’s neighbouring countries, oh, how I have waited for this! Welcome WIMA Denmark and WIMA Norway!
In addition, I am thrilled to welcome WIMA United Arab Emirates – the first WIMA division in the Middle-East!
We live in exciting times!

Best wishes

Åsa, international president of WIMA

Winter 2018

Seasons greetings dear WIMA friends!
It has been an exciting autumn where we have welcomed two new divisions to our sisterhood of female bikers, WIMA Lithuania joined us back in October and now, in December, we can welcome WIMA Greece.

In addition, there has been and is so much going on with the social movement Women Riders World Relay. It was started by Hayley Bell, member of WIMA GB, and soon spread globally and the plans are now developing. I look forward to taking part in the relay when it passes through Spain sometime in early spring. Have you checked when it passes you? It is not too late to join in!

Next year, we have two rallies to look forward to, first out is the Dushi WIMA Rally in Curacao, the first WIMA rally ever in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, I will have to miss out on this very special bike and beach rally as my job doesn’t permit me to take time off in the middle of a course. Instead, I’ll be attending our international rally in England mid-August. I’ll have plenty of free time this coming summer, so some further plotting and planning is underway – the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is a possible route to take. As you can see, I no longer have my Kawasaki 650 Versys. I’d been looking for a more nimble bike for some time and, as the mileage on the Kawa was increasing, I finally swapped it for a BMW F650GS, a beautiful red one. It’s older but with lower mileage. I can’t wait to load up my new-for-me bike and enjoy the countryside of the British Isles again!
Best wishes for the new year!

Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA

Autumn 2018

Hello lovely ladies!
Another summer is coming to an end. Summer has been one of the hottest, if not the hottest, in my life. It felt unbearable at times but when autumn came over one night, it became cool and rainy. As you know, I’m Swedish and we Swedes constantly talk about the weather and we’re never quite happy with it regardless of how it is.
In late June, I attended the Horizons Unlimited meet in Sweden and had the opportunity to give a talk about WIMA. As the audience was mainly male, I was pleasantly surprised that they were so interested and that so many questions followed about our organisation and activities. Their message to us was please don’t hesitate to use Horizons Unlimited’s communication channels as well, when you need help or advice. Just as WIMA is women supporting women, Horizons Unlimited is travellers supporting travellers.

The weather during the Horizons Unlimited event was brisk, as low as 3 degrees during the night, a stark contrast to the weather a few weeks later during the FIM rally in Lithuania. The week in Lithuania was a good opportunity for me to meet female riders and discuss the possibility of a Lithuanian WIMA division, as well as learning first hand about FIM and the history and purpose of their rallies. For those of you who don’t know, a FIM rally is a competition in touring and every country competes in several different categories, the most important ones are the largest number of participants and the longest distance travelled on average per participant. Besides this, the FIM rally also contains cultural elements with local food, music, dance and visits to nearby attractions – similar to what we do at our WIMA rallies.

The weather continued to be hot up north in Finland, and our location for the WIMA rally in the archipelago of Parainen was just perfect for us. Shady campsite with lots of trees, as well as a beach for swimming. I had a splash in the sea every morning, afternoon and evening. The rally itself had a good mix of activities: games and crafts to spend time off the bike, a bike safety workshop, excursions, poker run, parade and lots of different evening activities, for example karaoke, live band and DJ. We also had the possibility to learn more about FIM when Nita Korhonen introduced their work for women in motorcycling, and as we share objectives, hopefully we can collaborate in the future. I could go on forever telling you about the rally and the wonderful opportunity it gives for women to meet internationally, meet new friends, connect with old friends and have lots of fun on and off the bike together!

Attending a WIMA rally is something I wish that every woman would have the possibility to do at some point. If you haven’t attended one yet, I hope that our members can inspire you to do so with their posts and photos in our Facebook group and Instagram account. Next year, WIMA is hosting two rallies, firstly in Curaçao and then in Britain. More information is to follow. For now, I want to end my column with extending my greatest thanks to all the hard-working Finnish WIMAs who delivered this excellent rally for the benefit of all WIMA members!

Thank you!
Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA

2018

Dear WIMA friends and fellow bikers,
Here in the northern hemisphere, many have stored their bikes away, or are limited to shorter rides since days are shorter and nights are cold. This, of course, happens at the same time as the southern hemisphere enjoys summer and celebrates Christmas and New Year with barbeques or parties on the beach. One of my best New Year’s celebrations was back in 2005 when I was travelling in Australia and was hosted by Aussie WIMA members and joined them for a beach party at the surf club – for me to celebrate the turning of the year in shorts was amazing! For me, the people I meet through WIMA and the international activities that I’ve been able to take part in, at WIMA rallies but also spontaneous meet ups and online interactions, are what I value most from our organisation. The use of Facebook as a communication channel can bring us closer and I encourage all members to use our WIMA World Facebook group to share your activities: rides, mechanical issues, travel plans, asking for advice… it can be anything. If you’re not comfortable writing in English, write in your native language, Facebook can translate for us.

Back in the days when I lived in Sweden, winter was the time for tinkering with my bike and making plans for the next summer and where I would travel. Nowadays, I ride all year around, Spain has quite mild winters, but I still use the winters for planning my summers, perhaps out of habit. For this upcoming summer, I have quite a lot I would like to fit in my schedule. FIM has their annual rally the week before us, in Lithuania, which is practically next door to Finland. So, if I manage to complete my logistics puzzle, I will be there representing WIMA and I would be delighted if other WIMA women could join me there. If you think it sounds interesting, please contact me directly and we can chat about it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, summer is still far away – we start the new year with an invitation from Vidhi, President of WIMA India. On the 7th of January we are all invited to ride with WIMA India in support of disabled people, or superhumans as they prefer to call them. Everyone who wants to take part can do so in their own location and post photos using the hashtags #BiggestSocialLive #NoLabels #NoLimits #WimaGlobal #WimaIndia (Replace India with the name of your team). This is likely to be my very first event for 2018. If you want to know more you can contact Vidhi directly by e-mail of Facebook.

I’ll end here, wishing you a Happy New Year full of riding and whatever else your heart desires! I hope to see you on the road or on social media.

Best wishes,
Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA

Seasons_Greetings_2018

2017

Dear WIMA friends and female riders worldwide!

I’m privileged to have been given the trust to represent WIMA on an international level and my warmest thanks go to Claudia Fehrer for her many years of of service, firstly by serving four years as treasurer, followed by one year as vice-president and lastly five years as international president. Thank you Claudia for your great contribution to our organisation!
Many new divisions have joined our international sisterhood during the last 10 years and WIMA currently has 25 divisions. I have had the joy of working with a few of these new divisions myself during my time as vice-president. Working together with our members and connecting female riders all over the world by spreading the good word of WIMA sisterhood is simply amazing. Connecting and supporting female riders worldwide has been the main goal of WIMA since the organisation started in the US more than 60 years ago and it is with great joy I continue doing so as international president.

Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA
July 2017

Season_Greetings_2016

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