MAKE TRAVEL MATTER
Our adventures can empower the growing number of women who work in tourism around the world
It’s International Women’s Day, a day when we celebrate the achievements of women, and consider new ways to empower women. Women are still considered unequal in many societies which can limit their economic opportunities, but an increasing number of women are finding opportunities in tourism. And as travelers, we can support women’s economic empowerment in the places we visit.
Why March 8 is International Women's Day
For more than 100 years, since 1914, women around the world have marked March 8 as a day to celebrate women’s achievements and call for change where it is needed. Women come together at rallies and special events, in person and online, to draw attention to the most pressing issues related to gender equality. It is also an important day of fundraising for organizations working toward women’s rights.
Women Empowering Women
As we consider returning to more travel there are some important ways we can support women who work in tourism around the world.
Choose Women Tour Guides
In Cairo Egypt, Laila Hassaballa and Mariam Nezar turned their love of food into a tour guiding business that they call Bellies en Route. Women around the world are increasingly taking jobs as tour guides, or launching their own businesses as Laila and Mariam did.
The website Journey Woman has a list of female tour guides from around the world which allows you to search by country: Journey Woman – Local Woman Guides.
Empowering Women in Asia
Shop at Cooperatives that Support Women & Pay Fairly
I stayed at the Shinta Mani Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2019, and learned of the work of the Shinta Mani Foundation. It was created to support the communities in which their hotels operate. People with limited opportunities due to poverty, are enrolled in a free training program to prepare them for jobs with the hotels. Shinta Mani also supports the education of the community’s children. This gift shop at the hotel sold beautiful handicrafts made by women, and the equally lovely women in the shop helped me decide what color necklace to buy.
Empowering Women in India
In a pretty courtyard in Rajasthan India, this women’s collective called Sunder Rang (beautiful colours in Hindi) women work on traditional handicrafts which are sold to visitors . The collective was started on International Women’s Day in 2007 as a way to support the community. A school is also located here, where children from the village can learn computer skills. Shopping at well-run cooperatives and paying fair prices for our souvenirs is one way we can empower women when we travel.
Empowering Women in Africa
Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, yet women do not benefit from this to the same extent as men. There are many barriers, including lack of access to education programs and funding restraints. Equality has stagnated in Africa and research shows women in Africa lag behind women in other parts of the developing world. Yet women are seeking opportunity in tourism, according to the World Tourism Organization. Let’s support their talent and ambition by hiring women when possible, on our Africa travels.
Here are a couple of fun and inspiring examples of women in tourism. In Kampala, Uganda, a group of women run a tourism business called Adventures With Locals, and offer female-led guided tours, eco safaris and cultural experiences.
Choose Accommodation Owned by Women
In Tanzania, the first female-led safari company is breaking barriers in an industry traditionally dominated by men. The Dunia Camp opened in 2016 and after closures during the pandemic is welcoming guests once more. This luxury safari camp has 8 charming tens, complete with luxe bathrooms and stunning views from private verandahs. The women who work here are away from family for months at a time and Dunia is the only camp in Africa run entirely by women, quite an achievement in a male-dominated industry. It’s definitely on my bucket list for a trip to East Africa.
What a privilege, to explore this beautiful world, and help to empower women along the way. I will be updating this article with more examples of incredible women in tourism around the world, so please check back. And if you know of a women-owned tourism business, please share it in the comments.
Happy International Women’s Day, and happy travels!