All over the world, women play pivotal roles in shaping the tourism landscape. Even more in Africa some of these women have remained trailblazers in helping define tourism on the continent.
There is no denying the fact that women represent the greater number of all labour engaged in tourism related businesses.
A UNWTO Global Report on Women in Tourism released in 2010 indicates the following;
1. Women make up a large proportion of the formal tourism workforce.
2. Women are well represented in service and clerical level jobs but poorly represented at professional levels.
3. Women in tourism are typically earning 10% to 15% less than their male counterparts.
4. The tourism sector has almost twice as many women employers as in other sectors.
5. One in five Tourism Ministers worldwide is woman.
6. Women make up a much higher proportion of own-account workers in tourism than in other sectors.
This couldn’t be any truer as most of the women use tourism as a subsistence employment platform to support their livelihoods and that of their families.
Sadly however, the report indicates that, “a large amount of unpaid work is being carried out by women in family tourism businesses.”
Time and again, women have demonstrated that tourism works for all.
“The capacity of tourism to empower women socially, politically, and economically is particularly relevant in developing regions where women may face the greatest hardships and inequalities,” the Report stated.
More importantly, is to increase the awareness of the crucial role women play in tourism that help bolster economies of African countries.
We align with some of the key recommendations of the UNWTO Report which remains relevant in the current tourism dispensation.
Some include: Strengthen legal protection for women in tourism employment; some of which should address minimum wage regulations and equal pay laws.
The recommendations also require improvement on maternity leave requirements, flexible hours, work-from-home options, and arrangements for childcare. Again we should help facilitate women’s entrepreneurship by ensuring women’s access to credit, land and property as well as provide appropriate training and resources to support women’s tourism enterprises.
The bedrock of all these is perhaps the need to ensure the promotion of women’s participation in tourism education and training and improving the educational level of women already working in different areas of the industry through a targeted and strategic program of action.
We at VoyagesAfriq doff our hats to UNWTO for their decision to hold the first-ever Regional Congress on Women Empowerment in the tourism sector with focus on Africa. The event took place , Ghana from 25th -27TH November, 2019 and among the tall list of activities was a Masterclass on Innovation in Tourism.
For us, an event like this, speaks to the need to bring women together to forge a strong agenda while giving them a unique platform to network, share and exchange ideas and build their capacities in order to get them in tune with the ever dynamic tourism trends.
From the local food seller at a national park, to the tour operator through to the director at the Tourism Ministry whose work affect national policy on tourism, there are phenomenal women who through their involvement in the sector, are helping write a positive narrative about tourism in Africa and beyond. To such women, we say kudos and keep soaring.
This article first appeared in the 9th edition of the VoyagesAfriq Travel Magazine as an editorial piece
By: Samuel Obeng Appah