UNWTO: Women take “centre stage” in sector development

 Thursday, March 9, 2023 


Tourism must continue to deliver on its potential as a driver of women’s empowerment and opportunity.

To mark International Women’s Day, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and UN Women have jointly reaffirmed their commitment to keeping women’s empowerment ‘Centre Stage’ of tourism development.

Tourism as a gender equality leader

UNWTO research has previously shown the enormous potential of the tourism sector to empower women of all backgrounds.

Fifty-four percent of the global tourism workforce is female, the gender wage gap is lower in tourism, and the proportion of women in leadership roles is higher than in other sectors.

However, much progress is still to be made.

Women are still concentrated in lower-paid, precarious, and often informal work. Furthermore, UNWTO research has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic hit women in tourism harder than men.

For instance, women were more likely to lose their job, have their hours or pay reduced, and to shoulder more care responsibilities in all of the countries surveyed.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said UNWTO has worked with their partners to study and document the huge contribution women make to tourism. 

Now it is time for tourism to give back. With the ‘Centre Stage’ model they can help the sector work for women and they will not stop until the girls of tomorrow have the same opportunities as the men of today.

Public and private unity

The pioneering ‘Centre Stage’ project was launched in 2021 to address this imbalance and expand tourism’s place in the development agenda and women’s empowerment. 

Created by UNWTO, BMZ, and UN Women, the project is geared towards creating a people-centered model for tourism development that puts the needs of women at its heart.

In bringing together the public sector with tourism businesses and civil society organizations, the project directly trained 1,800 people, saw 2,826 women get a promotion, surveyed 27,000 people, and reached over 20 million in a global awareness-raising campaign.

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