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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Empowering women through tourism

The positive contribution of tourism to women empowerment can only be determined if poverty reduction and the enhancement of women’s dignity and role in the work place are addressed. These are among the issues in UNWTO’s action plan to empower women through tourism, unveiled during ITB Berlin 2008 in early March. The Organization is committed to play a leading role in economic empowerment of women in the tourism sector.

The Action Plan has to be regarded as part of UNWTO's "triple commitment" objectives, in the framework of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals:
  • tourism should benefit the poor;

  • protection of our environment and

  • empowerment of women.

Under the guidance of H.E. Mrs. Nilofar Bakhtiar, recently appointed UNWTO Special Advisor on Women and Tourism, the Organization has initiated procedures and established mechanisms to ensure that women really benefit from tourism.

"I want to enable women to become socially and economically empowered. More than anything I want this initiative to address issues of poverty reduction and give women a chance to earn a living with equity and dignity," said Mrs. Nilofar Bakhtiar.

UNWTO Deputy Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, said that "Ranging from 60-70 %, the percentage of women employed in the tourism sector is already relatively high; our joint action, will let us also improve the quality and conditions of women's employment in tourism, as well as create increased economic opportunities for self-employed women and micro-entrepreneurs."

During ITB Berlin, more than 70 tourism representatives, including the first female Minister of Tourism from Palestine, H.E. Ms. Khouloud Daibes, as well as H.E. Ms. Maha Kathib, Minister of Tourism of Jordan, participated in a discussion following UNWTO's presentation of its Action Plan for the next two years.

The plan encompasses the following activities:

  • Establish a multi-stakeholder TASKFORCE;

  • Put in place of a DATA COLLECTION system, including desk research and case studies;

  • Initiate a BIENNIAL UNWTO-UNIFEM REPORT on the situation of women in tourism;

  • Expand the website into a PORTAL to serve as a global knowledge sharing e-network;

  • Build INTERNATIONAL AWARENESS about opportunities for women in tourism

  • Call upon UNWTO MEMBERS to take vigorous steps to support gender mainstreaming in national development processes so as to achieve women's equality in the tourism sector;

  • Foster a NETWORK of activists, ambassadors and advocates and experts in gender issues from around the world.

Source: UNWTO

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