We are now at the half-way point of our series #5Questions4Change, in celebration of International Women’s Day 2021. So far, we have documented women’s personal experiences of gender bias in tourism, as well as the main challenges posed to them due to their gender whilst working in the industry. Today’s theme centres around challenging government: that is, what changes can governments around the world implement in order to promote and defend gender equality in tourism?

What change do you think is needed from your government to promote gender equality in the tourism sector? 

“The government has to understand that gender equality constitutes when members of all communities have rights.  I know many members of the LGBT+ community that fear losing their jobs.”

annIE young’s thoughts on government input in the tourism industry

JORDAN ASHLEY – Founder of Souljourn Yoga Foundation, USA @SouljournYoga

Funding for starters for women travel initiatives and companies, especially for ones that are BIPOC would be a great start in the right direction. I think creating partnerships between women-run lodges, excursions, tours, etc on the ground with new female-run companies would be absolutely amazing in equalizing the playing field for women who are both visitors and residents of that said destination.

IVA SILLA – Owner and author of Secret Zagreb Tours, Croatia @Kazivacica

The national bodies could make symbolic changes by running surveys and publishing statistics about women in tourism (salaries, percentage of women employed in various tourism sectors) that could help us raise awareness and encourage those who don’t prioritise equality to rethink it. I do believe that Croatia could be proud of those numbers and this could contribute to the positive image of the country, but this is just my subjective opinion. I also think that bigger support to female micro and mini entrepreneurs in tourism is necessary. I think research would be useful that shows just how long on average a woman stays in charge of a business compared to men. if the results are not good, more effort should be put into resolving the issues. 

FROSSO BORAFrosso Bora Ceramics, Crete @FrossoBoraCeramics

The government needs to support mothers with young children. Many women have to stop working so that they can raise their children. If you stop working, returning to work is hard. It is also very hard for older women that want to start working again. Even when it comes to my businesses, I prefer hiring younger women because they are more tech-savvy than older women (however, I have some female employees that have been working for me for years). Nowadays it is very hard for someone without digital skills to work, she herself frequently struggles but her children help her. She believes the government should provide childcare facilities and provide training opportunities.

TRANG THI THU MAI Co-founder and Community Development Project Manager at YESD (Youth Employment and Society Development), Vietnam @yesdsocialenterprise

If governments can provide funding for women cooperatives, such as traditional embroidery cooperatives, herbal medicine cooperatives, something like that, it will be great to involve women into the tourism sector. That will not only increase the local income, but it also preserves local indigenous cultures and traditions. 

Also the government should provide professional experts to train the female local staff. Besides, they can promote or encourage tourists to travel and visit those cooperatives on their websites and social media channels for free.

ANNIE YOUNG – President of the Panamanian Foundation of Sustainable Tourism; Founder and former owner of EcoCircuitos Panama Tour Operator and Sublime Journeys DMC, @APTSO.ORG

Panama’s Governments can’t do it all but this is a moment that urgently calls for good governance. Panama already has plans for projects which support job opportunities for young women and women in conditions of vulnerability, such as the implementation of equality measures in companies. There are public-private partnerships that are working on different action plans in this area. However, gender equality is also an LGBT+ rights issue. In Panama, the LGBT+ community does not have basic rights and has been advocating for change. The government has to understand that gender equality constitutes when members of all communities have rights.  I know many members of the LGBT+ community that fear losing their jobs.

We hope you enjoyed the first day of #5Questions4Change, join us throughout the week as we ask women to challenge more aspects of the Tourism Industry. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for updates on #5Questions4Change and more!