By Hamira Zamani-Farahani

As I reflect on my life as we approach International Women’s Day, there are three women that come to mind. These women have impacted my career and personal life immensely and so it feels opportune to share how they’ve encouraged and motivated me through the years.

The first is Dr. Lee Jolliffe from Canada, who I met in 2007 at the International Conference on Heritage & Tourism in Guangzhou, China. At the time, I was a doctoral student in tourism management at the University of Malaya and was there to present part of my research. Based on the feedback from the conference review, I wrote a paper and submitted it to a leading international tourism journal. My supervisor at that time was not very encouraging, suggesting there are dozens of articles much better than mine set to be published in the journal. His attitude failed to discourage me though. It was the first time I was able to publish a scholarly article in an international academic journal and I was so excited! I called on Dr. Lee for assistance, and, like an “Angel of Salvation “, she helped me complete the paper. I always admired her original and innovative research topics including mining heritage tourism, automobile heritage tourism and; spices, tea, coffee and sugar tourism. Inspired by her, I worked on new topics that had previously received less attention such as a comparison of tourism between two major Muslim countries in the Middle East—Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shia pilgrimage, cultural heritage events, rosewater tourism, and published book about tea tourism in Iran and some other work  in progress.

Dr. Joan C. Henderson is the second woman to inspire me academically. I really enjoyed reading her work and I felt close to her writing style, research subjects, and thoughts. At the time, she was living and working in Singapore and I had been in Malaysia. We collaborated through email on some research publications and at first, I found her introverted and reserved, though we never met in-person. This collaboration resulted in several co-authored articles. Working with Dr. Henderson has encouraged me to keep working on publishing as well.

Last but certainly not least, in my personal life, I’m inspired and motivated by my mother, who was educated about 64 years ago while living in Arak, a small-town in north-central Iran. She was very interested in the arts—writing, poetry, painting, and reading. She was a devoted and loving wife and mother as well. Because of my father’s disapproval though, she never had a job, but she encouraged their daughters. She always wanted her daughters to become successful in life and I feel that hope today and every day whether I’m working or just simply being.

These three women I’ve mentioned have empowered me to achieve academic and personal success and fulfillment. May God bless them for many years ahead. Happy International Women’s Day to all!

Photos from left to right: Mrs. Pourandokht Etemadiyeh (my mother); Dr. Lee Jolliffe; and Dr. Joan C. Henderson.

Hamira is founder and managing director of the Astiaj Tourism Consultancy & Research Centre in Tehran. Astiaj, founded in 2001 as an independent tourism, leisure and hospitality consultancy company, which provides a wide range of professional services designed to help companies, NGOs and Government agencies within the tourism sector. 

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