EqualityInTourism’s Director Tricia Barnett reflects on participating in WTM London’s panel on human rights and gender equality (5 November 2014)

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s really good to know that the World Travel Market has taken women’s issues on board.

Last year Equality in Tourism launched with a session on its research findings that women are massively under-represented at executive levels of the top tourism companies worldwide. There are less than 16% of women on the boards of hotels, operators, carriers and associations. Being supported to deliver a gender equality focus was a first for the WTM. Something needed to happen to transform this woeful situation and this year they invited Alessandra Alonso, who works with as a management consultant and coach-mentor for women, to head up two gender-focused sessions: http://www.wtmlondon.com/library/Women-women-everywhere-1

On Wednesday 5th November, I was on a panel which focused on human rights and gender equality. As it’s not considered a trendy subject, and too often dismissed as `moral’, we on the panel were delighted to see a good, mixed audience.

What was clear from Adventure Alternative tour operator Gavin Bate – just crowned winner at the responsible travel awards as the operator doing Best for Poverty Reduction -(http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/categories/economic.htm) and from Matthias Lessinger, Kuoni’s Vice-President of Corporate Responsibility, who has worked with Equality in Tourism on gender equality training, is that there is a real heightened awareness of the need to enable women to get a genuine foothold into the benefits that tourism can bring. Not just the disabling negatives as women struggle with low wages, poor working conditions and often trying to fit it all in to being family carers. Equality in Tourism is leading this revolution in the tourism industry. Gender equality is the zeitgeist in the air. Women are climbing into the driving seat in politics and business. It’s great news, and we need pioneers.

It’s wise to get on board now and be ahead of the curve. As an independent organisation, Equality in Tourism leads in knowledge and research. We work with both the public and private sectors to facilitate for change.

Tricia Barnett, Director, www.equalityintourism.org