Tourism can be a leading promulgator of gender equality as it offers a wide range of jobs for women, particularly in developing regions and rural areas where women still face major hardships. Indeed, there are many destinations around the world that rely upon the commitment and motivation of women working at all levels of the tourism supply chain. Yet the reality is that today women still often suffer from stereotyping and discrimination within the global tourism workforce.
As we observe this year’s International Women’s Day, it is time for the tourism sector to strengthen legal protection for women, ensure women’s equal pay and access to entrepreneurship resources, and promote women’s leadership in the tourism sector and participation in formal education.
As one of the sectors with the highest share of women both employed and as entrepreneurs, if gender equality is integrated into tourism planning and business development, we all gain. Greater gender equality impacts positively on the profitability, sustainability and overall competitiveness of the tourism sector.
Tourism can promote women’s empowerment through formal employment, which also impacts at the household and community level – contributing to the 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5, ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’, and other SDGs calling for inclusion and equal rights for all (Goals 1, 8, 10 and 11).
This International Women’s Day, I call upon the global tourism community to maximize every opportunity to raise awareness of gender inequality in tourism, and to help mainstream gender issues in tourism policies and strategies.
If we all work together we can realize the equal and inclusive future that we want and help to solve the world’s greatest human rights challenge: achieving true gender equality, social and economic parity between the sexes, and empowering the women that bring success not just to travel and tourism, but to world development as a whole.
Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)