Empowering Women In Tourism

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* This article is guest post authored by EarthCheck, a valued member of the PATA network. PATA is an advocate for sustainable tourism and proudly supports key discussions around the topic of sustainability.


Did you know that 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime?

The United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – to raise awareness that women are still subject to many forms of violence, both physical and psychological.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women also helps raise awareness about women in the workplace who are threatened by inequality, which is undoubtedly another form of violence.

Although we are working towards gender equality and women’s empowerment (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world!

Travel and tourism can help provide women with more opportunities for workforce participation, leadership, entrepreneurship and empowerment than many other sectors, particularly in developing countries and as such it can have a tremendous effect on poverty reduction in rural communities.

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in which its workforce consists mainly of women. In some countries, there are twice as many women working in tourism compared to other industries!  

With an emphasis on sustainability, the tourism industry could be a role model, empowering women and promoting workplace equality!

When women do better, we all do better

According to a United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) report, women are more likely to have a leadership voice in tourism businesses, associations and tourism governance than in other arenas. For instance, EarthCheck members, Banyan Tree Group, was founded by three entrepreneurs one of which is Ms Claire Chiang.

Ms Chiang is a well respected Singaporean entrepreneur, women’s rights activist and former Nominated Member of Parliament. She also holds the title as the co-founder of hospitality group Banyan Tree and one of the first two women to be admitted to the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI). Initiatives employed by Banyan Tree, such as the Seedlings Program aims to empower local communities. Ms Chiang strongly believes that their business should create value in the communities they work with.

Empowering Women 
The new report in Women and Tourism, Designing for Inclusion, encourages senior managers to incorporate a gender kens into all stages of the industry. The report provides checklists and recommendations at three key phases in the project life-cycle that can empower women through tourism.

  • Analysis that identifies the client country’s tourism and gender challenges and opportunities prior to intervention plans;
  • Actions and interventions designed to encourage and enable women to step outside of traditional gender roles and take higher paying jobs in tourism; and
  • Monitoring and evaluation that focuses on the quality, as well as quantity of jobs held by women.


Women assume many roles in the tourism industry. As leaders, innovators, business owners, and many others. The majority of the workers in tourism are women. The International Labour Organization found that women make up between 60-70% of the labour force in the hotel sector (though significant regional variation exists).

A study in Bulgaria revealed that 71% of managers and administrators in tourism are women compared to just 29% when accounting for all industries across the board. This fact alerts us of the urgency to abandon the stereotype, that women cannot be leaders, and to empower women in all industries.

Gender Equality 

Over two decades ago, representatives of 189 Government bodies played a part in constructing the most influential framework for advancing women’s rights. The creation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995 marks this historical achievement. This progressive blueprint remains a powerful source of inspiration in the effort to realize equal opportunities for women and girls even today.

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as part of UN Resolution. The 5th Goal of the United Nation’s SDG is to promote Gender Equality, while the 10th is to Reduce Inequality. The United Nations expect that by 2030, women can be ensured to have full participation and equal opportunities in leadership roles at all levels of decision making in political, economic, and public sectors.

Tracking performance

EarthCheck is aware of the significance that gender equality has on sustainable development. Therefore, several indicators touch upon the issue of gender equality. The EarthCheck software also enables tourism organisations to track the percentage of women among all employees and within the senior management level. When members submit relevant data, they will get to see how they compare with the Regional Average and Regional Best Practice figures. Year by year, members will also be able to benchmark their results to track improvement in workplace equality on an annual basis.

This function is provided by EarthCheck Certified program as well as EarthCheck Evaluate program. Both programs can help you to kick start this amazing initiative, and both use a science-based approach to help travel and tourism organisations navigate the path forward with certainty and peace of mind.

Take time to examine the status of gender equality within your organisation and a make a commitment to empower women in the tourism industry.

Coordinator Training
EarthCheck Coordinator Training is ideal for General Managers, EarthCheck Coordinators and the Green Team as it shows participants how to better manage, maintain and report on sustainability outcomes. The training is 2 hours per week for 5 weeks with group packages available.

Join a team of dedicated professionals who dare to make a difference! Download the registration form, complete your details, scan and email to charlotte.taylor@earthcheck.org.