INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: WOMEN IN TOURISM
On 8th March 2021 we celebrate International Women’s Day. Women have fought their entire lives to be heard and to be a part of our world.
From the late 19th century and early 20th century of the Suffragette movement for women’s right to vote, to Saudi Arabia’s latest push for more female equality, to the repression seen today of China’s Uyghur women.
Women are still fighting.
Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. More broadly; Civil rights are the rights that people have in a society to equal treatment and equal opportunities, whatever their race, sex, or religion.
Greater equality, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), is an imperative part of sustainable tourism and it’s sustainable tourism which Captured In Africa focus on today as part of our business model and we cannot have a business that doesn’t incorporate all civil rights for all people.
Captured In Africa along with our Captured In Africa Foundation, is a female-led company and non-profit, founded by South African Drew Abrahamson. The opportunity is there for us to recognise the strength of women and the impact that women can have on tourism, but also in everyday life, work places, safari guiding, safari lodge & hotel management, company boardrooms, conservation organisations, etc etc.
You could say that tourism is leading the charge in women-led equality.
Dunia Camp in the Serengeti is all-female; from management, to chefs, to guides. Angel Vendeline Namshali, a local Tanzanian lady who was born under the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, became Dunia Camp’s very first female manageress. Though Tanzania is still a largely male-dominated society, Dunia Camp is a shining beacon for the empowerment of women and is thriving in the middle of the Serengeti!
Chobe Angels are an all-female guiding team at Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana. More than 65% of all the lodge’s staff members are women. Chobe Angels is a successful initiative aimed at increasing the number of qualified female guides within the Botswana guiding fraternity.
Women now have increased opportunities to rival and often surpass their male counterparts, by gaining qualitfications as qualified safari guides throughout Africa. The Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA) recently interviewed Senior Field Guide and Mentor Guide at Lion Sands Game Reserve, Tovhowani (Tovhi) Mudau.
Airlines have also made significant progress in recent years. Ethiopian Airlines, since 2015, have conducted all-female functioned flights between several major cities in Africa and worldwide. In March 2020 Ethiopian Airlines conducted their 6th consecutive all-women operated flight. Other airlines who have implemented this same course of positive empowerment include Air Canada, Air India, Afghanistan Kam Air and more.
It’s been a long journey for female pilots since 1910, when Baroness Raymonde de la Roche obtained her license from the Aero Club of France, becoming the first woman in the world to earn a pilot’s license.
In Africa, various female driven enterprises have developed and key tourism inclusivity initiatives have sprouted. One such initiative was the Association of South African Women in Tourism, a non-governmental organisation which formed in 2018 with the aim of driving transformation within the tourism sector. South Africa’s government has also held the Women in Tourism Conference since 2013, which focusses on promoting empowerment and jobs for shared growth. The Women in Tourism Conference features presentations and facilitated panel discussions that encourage reflection and discussion on:
- Accelerating the economic empowerment and progression of women in the tourism sector;
- Expanding the role of women in the tourism sector through the Women in Tourism platform; and
- Exploring new and varied business opportunities to advance women entrepreneurs and contribute to job creation.
In Zimbabwe in March 2019, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa helped launch the country’s first Women In Tourism initiative and called for “more concerted efforts for women to be more visible and active through various initiatives and strategies”.
You can also read about some of Uganda’s beautiful women, who are leading by example within the tourism and conservation arenas.
Women in Africa and around the world are continuously pushing boundaries towards a more all-inclusive, fair, justified world. Yet, there are still obstacles for women.
While the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment, women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world. Tourism is one the world’s leading supplier of jobs, providing 330 million jobs (1 in 10 positions) and in 2019 provided 10.3% of global GDP.
Whilst women occupy approximately 54% of the tourism workforce, they sadly hold lower statuses and lower paid jobs. The knock-on affects resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and how females in these lesser positions have been (and will be) negatively impacted, are still a cause for concern and reason for more progress on equality for women. African tourism plummeted by an estimated 75% in 2020 from 2019 according to the United Nations World Tourism organisation (UNWTO) and this is important when we look at women’s equality. Academic professionals suggest during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges and negative implications faced by women are exacerbated, with women’s economic security, participation in employment, political representation, health outcomes and educational achievement negatively impacted, and more so than men.
Empowering women to participate fully in economic life is essential to building strong economies; creating more stable and just societies; achieving internationally agreed goals for development, sustainability and human rights; and improving the quality of life of women, and consequently, that of communities. Tourism has increasingly become instrumental in the socio-economic development across the whole African continent.
There are so many possibilities in African tourism when we promote, encourage and ensure equality.
How will you help forge a gender equal world?
- Celebrate women’s achievement
- Raise awareness against bias
- Take action for equality
Please also visit the International Women’s Day website for more information, guidance and resources.
Featured image women: Chobe Game Lodge Guide Tshepiso ‘Vivian’ Diphupu, MORE Senior Field Guide Tovhowani ‘Tovhi’ Mudau and NJ More Field Guide Academy Student
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