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Tourism and Gender: How Can Tourism Help Empower Women and Promote Gender Equality?
Our weekly discussion article on current issues, challenges and opportunities related to ecotourism this week focuses on the third UN Millennium Development Goal: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, and what responsibilities the tourism industry has in promoting gender equality, creating opportunities, and ending violence against women. What are some examples of your organization's initiatives to empower women? How can the tourism industry contribute to the efforts to empower women? Head over to TIES-EXCHANGE to add your comments and ideas related to this topic! (Member log-in required)
Did you know that, according to the UNWTO, women make up the majority of the tourism workforce, but that they tend to be in the lowest paid, sometimes even un-paid, and lowest status jobs? In order to promote gender equality, support opportunities for women and end violence against women, it is important to empower women as a first step. The tourism industry can contribute to this effort by creating opportunities for women and spread awareness of gender issues. Having economic opportunities and education is one of the most important ways for women to empower themselves to seek a better quality of life for themselves, their families and their communities.
UN Women and UNWTO Women in Tourism Program
The Global Report on Women in Tourism 2010 confirms that tourism can act as a vehicle for the empowerment of women whilst highlighting the remaining challenges for gender equality in tourism. The UNWTO along with UN Women, a division of the UN working towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, has been working towards enhancing the positive impact of tourism on women's lives and to bring gender issues to the forefront of the tourism industry. Many non-governmental organizations, such as the Maseualsiuamej Mosenyolchicauani (Indigenous Women Acting Together) in Mexico, and the Kenya Association of Women in Tourism (KAWT), work towards raising awareness of women in the tourism industry and giving women the opportunity to advance in the field.
The proposed Women in Tourism Empowerment Programme (WITEP) will promote women’s economic empowerment in tourism through partnerships with tourism stakeholders including the improvement of employment opportunities for women such as skills, supply chain, career advancement and gender awareness. It is important to provide educational activities for women to better improve their opportunities for working within the tourism industry.
Ending Violence Against Women
According to UN Women, up to 7 in 10 women will be beaten, raped, abused, or mutilated in their lifetimes. In order to raise awareness to this issue, the UN Women Campaign Let's End Violence Against Women along with the UN Secretary-General's campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women support mobilization through their Say NO platform and their new initiative COMMIT which calls on leaders around the world to take a stand to end violence against women and girls. What can the tourism industry do to raise awareness and try to end violence towards women?
Empowering Women Through Ecotourism
The following are some exemplary cases of TIES members who are working towards the empowerment of women:
- 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking works to enable disadvantaged women to break out of their traditional roles in Nepal by providing female trekking guide training programs and apprenticeships to improve their skills, learn about nutrition, the environment and history as well as practice their English. They are working towards improving the local community economic development of some of the poorest areas in Nepal by employing mothers who are then able to bring their education and income to their villages, move on to other jobs or stay with 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking.
- AMUCA Art Center Inc., a non-governmental organization, provides assistance to women in rural areas in local communities in the Dominican Republic. Specifically, the center provides an educational center for women so that they can be role models and learn the art of Taino ceramics thereby facilitating their household welfare.
- Thirteen Threads, or Oxlajuj B'atz'/Trece Hilos is a non-profit organization in Guatemala empowering women and providing them with non-formal education so that they can alleviate the adverse effects of poverty and improve their quality of life. Women will be able to work in a cooperatives earning sustainable income, use the resource library and get an education. Tours to the women’s communities are also offered as well as artisan classes that are local to the communities.
- The Buenas Cosas cooperative of Guatemalan women works towards improving local communities by removing garbage, opening community centers, providing ecotourism trips, and raising funds for various improvements around the local communities.
Ideas, comments, questions? Join our discussions on TIES-EXCHANGE! *If you're not yet a member of TIES, and would like to access TIES-EXCHANGE and other member networking and learning resources, please consider joining TIES today.