At its 69th General Assembly in December 2014, the United Nations passed a Resolution entitled ‘Promotion of sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, for poverty eradication and environment protection’. The resolution recognises the contribution of sustainable tourism to poverty eradication, community development and the protection of biodiversity and calls on the UN to promote sustainable tourism as a tool for achieving global development goals.

While not the primary focus, gender equality and women’s empowerment are mentioned explicitly in the text of the resolution. Point 14 emphasises ‘the need for effective measures, in the context of sustainable tourism, including ecotourism initiatives, to ensure the full empowerment of women, including the equal participation of women and men at all levels and in decision-making processes in all areas’. Also, Point 15 recognises the need to promote the ‘effective economic empowerment, including through international cooperation, of women, youth, persons with disabilities and older persons, in sustainable tourism, including ecotourism activities, mainly through decent job and income creation’.

Equality in Tourism welcomes the inclusion of women’s empowerment in this high level discussion of sustainable tourism. However, we suggest that more needs to be done in order to ensure that these concerns are effectively addressed. The resolution requests UNWTO and other UN agencies to develop recommendations on ways to promote sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, to be submitted to the 71st UNGA, in 2016. We propose that gender analysis and gender training should be key to this process.

At Equality in Tourism, we believe that sustainable tourism is only possible with gender equality. We know that tourism offers opportunities for the empowerment of women. However, women rarely receive an equal share of the benefits of tourism, and often bear the brunt of the industry’s most negative impacts. We offer tailored advice and training to support companies, organisations and public bodies to integrate gender issues into their work. At this time when sustainable tourism is being discussed at high levels, we propose an open debate on women’s empowerment and gender equality in tourism.