No. 108: Strong Women - Strong Tourism (04/2022)
Tourism is a predominantly female industry. No matter where you travel: It is mostly women who clean the rooms, work in the gastronomy or sell the handicrafts - often under precarious conditions. In contrast, men dominate the executive floors of travel companies or the speakers’ lists of tourism fairs. Those managers often highlight the potential of tourism to offer employment to women in difficult situations - especially after taking time for motherhood and family phases. They prefer not to tell that they also benefit from the difficult situation of these women. After all, many female employees hardly make any demands on their employers because too much is at stake for them and their families. In tourism, a glass ceiling keeps women on the lowest rungs of the career ladder. Thus, it is not a surprise that three out of four general managers in tourism are men.
In this Tourism Watch edition, we look at women entrepreneurs from Brazil, El Salvador and Madagascar who have founded their companies against a lot of opposition. With deep respect, we present women who stand up against stereotypes and classic role attributions, as the example of a female hiking guide in India shows. Our authors and interviewees insist that they not only want to improve their own situation, but also to change the image of women in their societies. This motivation makes them fighters who move forward with great ambition and seemingly inexhaustible energy. However, the narrative that entrepreneurial success is solely up to the will and individual strength of the women falls short. The structural causes that disadvantage them are immense: social prejudices and a lack of existing business networks stand in their way. Limited access to technical know-how and business loans prevents their self-determination, as the interview from the Dominican Republic shows.
Women in tourism do not want any longer to stay invisible und unheard. They want to be role models and provide inspiration to other women far beyond their industry. In this spirit: Read our current newsletter and find motivation from the power of these women.
Trekking guides in India are usually male. But that can change, as this year’s TODO Award winner Himalayan Ecotourism shows.
Three women from Brazil and El Salvador report on the ups and downs of their entrepreneurship.
While gender inequalities persist in Madagascar, women are increasingly free to choose their activities. The pandemic gave a boost to their determination and creativity.
Krystal Yearwood of UNDP's future tourism project talks about the importance of women's empowerment to rebuilding Caribbean MSMEs in tourism after COVID-19.
Companies should not benefit from the vulnerability of people in the informal economy but act with due diligence to fulfil their responsibilities to respect human rights.