By Ruvimbo Makombe
United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), has launched the long-awaited second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism on the last week of November.
The publication highlights the progress the global tourism sector has made in advancing gender equality, with key case studies and statistics gathered from around the world.
Women in Zimbabwe have benefited from tourism because some are being hired as tour guides which increase their incomes.
Mzwake Bhebhe who is an event planner said tourism has helped her to bloom her business because when people visit Zimbabwe in places like Victoria falls, Kariba ,Nyanga Nyanga or any tourist destination ,they contact her to help them with services ranging from travelling schedules to events management.
She went on to say that she is willing to employ other women.
The report also highlights how more and more women are challenging gender stereotypes in the sector. In Morocco, for example, women have been issued tour guide licenses for the first time.
An airline in the UK has doubled the number of female pilots they employ and Uganda’s Hotel Owner’s Association is now lead by its first female CEO.
Technology has also been a catalyst for empowerment, providing women with access to more training opportunities and stimulating female entrepreneurship through easier access to the tourism market.
In the public sphere, policy-makers are waking up to the importance of gender equality in tourism and putting measures in place to ensure women fairly share the benefits that tourism can bring.
Speaking on these findings UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, commented on the positive change with regards to the financial empowerment of women that have been brought by tourism.
“Tourism is leading the charge for female empowerment all over the world. Across the private and public sectors women are harnessing the potential of tourism to become financially independent, challenge stereotypes and start their own businesses,” said Pololikashvili.
UNWTO is firmly committed to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal to empower women and girls and ensure that tourism continues to be at the forefront of gender equality efforts.