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Women empowerment, a way towards tourism recovery after Covid-19

As indicated by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), women occupy 54% of the workforce in the sector worldwide. A fundamental weight that places this group as one of the priorities in the implementation of mitigation measures in the industry for the situation caused by COVID-19.

And it is that the recovery of the sector provides an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of all that has been advanced and learned in the field of female empowerment. A bet that would make it possible to continue contributing to reducing women's access barriers to the workplace and improving their protection.

Not surprisingly, UNWTO itself has developed, in collaboration with international, national and local entities, a series of measures to help governments and companies to design an inclusive response to COVID-19. The objective? Let no one be left behind in the sector's recovery phase.

Immediate response actions

The main actions proposed by the organisation focus on providing a short-term response to the current situation through proposals such as:

  1. Supply aid for women workers in the informal economy, with the aim of providing greater stability and protection.
  2. Promote gender balance in decision-making bodies for crisis management, to ensure that women are an equal part of the recovery.
  3. Guarantee access to healthcare, especially in the case of seasonal workers or those who are part of vulnerable groups.
  4. Promote equal access to information about COVID-19 and its effects through various forms and channels of communication to ensure its effective transmission.

Recovery actions

UNWTO also indicates a series of medium and long-term tasks that rescue and update some of the aspects that have been working in the field of female empowerment in tourism in recent years:

  1. Protection against gender violence, which has been made especially visible by the situation of COVID-19 and which currently requires greater legal protection.
  2. Flexible working conditions to guarantee work-life balance in a context in which the need for unpaid care has been saturated.
  3. The encouragement of initiating and boosting the professional career of women, so that they can reach more leadership positions.
  4. The promotion of data disaggregated by sex, with the aim of better understanding and analysing the participation of women in tourism.

Pioneering initiatives in this area

Although the UNWTO recommendations are recent, several tourism initiatives are already doing an excellent job in line with these values. One of them is Women in Hospitality & Travel Tech (WHTT), a project analysed by the different measurement systems of the FiturNext Observatory (replicability and impact) for the 2021 Challenge that aims to support female leadership by inspiring women through of the promotion of education, mentorship and professional development.

Aware that promoting more respectful and inclusive tourism is more important than ever, WHTT recently organised an eminently female online panel (in Spanish) that included the participation of experts from both tourism and inclusion and diversity sectors to promote the development of immersive experiences based on diversity and inclusion  in tourist destinations.

In their opinion, the solution to reinvigorate the industry after the current disruption will be based on the definition of a purpose and values that take into account local needs, as well as promoting the inclusion and participation of the local community, both in the development of the destination and in the tourist experiences themselves.

In short, the relevance that female empowerment can have for the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis seems clear. A path, however, that must not only come as a consequence of the measures to be taken to increase the levels of equality, but must also be a promoter of them by the leaders of the sector.