Working closely with a group of highly knowledgeable, power-house local women tourism professionals across Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and Jordan (where we hope to expand to next) we aim to provide good paying tourism jobs to many local women guides, hotel owners, restaurant owners, shopkeepers, craftsmakers, and tour managers. We believe in empowering local women through employment with fair-wage jobs, helping women be equal wage earners and support their families. Our tours reflect these beliefs. We are changing these women’s lives one tour and one traveler at a time. Through this Morocco tour, there are so many women guides and tourism workers whose lives we will positively impact through this good, fare wage work.
Responsible tourism is a manifesto. It’s taking ownership for the role we play and the power we have through how we travel and how we spend to directly impact local women’s lives.
I’d like to share one particularly moving story with you of how our tours are helping women tourism professionals. Reham Ali is one of our expert women guides who shows our women travelers around Egypt. She’s a professional Egyptologist and highly respected in the industry. She has a number of degrees, has lived all over the world, and speaks more languages than I can count on one hand. She’s one of the smartest, toughest ladies I know. She also puts helping others ahead of herself. When travelers stiff the driver because they don’t believe in tipping; she pays out of her own pocket to ensure that the driver makes a daily living wage so he can support his family. When shopkeepers are struggling she buys small trinkets and gifts to help them out. She is acutely aware of how hard Egypt’s tourism sector has been hit and she is determined to make a difference in her colleague’s lives and her community, with the little resources she has and a lot of heart.
When the economy in Egypt took a downturn after the Arab Spring, women were the hardest hit, especially in the tourism industry. The majority of work went to the eldest male guides, since they culturally were viewed as the “providers.” Reham, like many of her female colleagues, found work dried up and she had a very difficult time supporting her young son and her family. Hiring Reham to guide our travelers around Egypt, we have been able to help her put her son through school. Our tours and are travelers, by hiring Reham at good wages for our yearly Egypt tours, has helped her provide for her family. It has given her money to send her young son to a good school. It has helped her put food on the table and keep a roof over her families head. With each tour we are making a difference in Reham’s life, her son’s life and her families’ life. We are helping her have the resources to both take care of her family, and also continue to take classes and advance her career. She is able to be a strong contributor to both the travel industry and also Egyptian society.
As the World Bank Reports, “The data suggest that even highly educated young women are increasingly vulnerable. To give an illustration, between 1998 and 2006, the percentage of young Egyptian women possessing a university degree rose from 6 to 12%. Strikingly, the female labor force participation rate in this age group remained near-stagnant, while their rate of unemployment increased from 19 to 27 percent….Women’s participation in the economy is believed to provide a tremendous impetus to their enhanced participation in public affairs. That is perhaps why the low levels of female labor force participation and employment in the MENA region raise some concern. A mixture of arguments – economic, institutional and cultural in nature – have been put forth to unpack the reasons behind this phenomenon.”
You as a traveler on an ArchaeoAdventures trip are also part of this responsible tourism practice. By joining us on one of our tours, you are actively using your trip to employ local women with fair-wage jobs. You can be proud to be part of this step in the right direction for worldwide gender equality – one woman at a time.
We have many, many women guides in Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco whose lives we are making a big difference in. I invite you to help us make this difference in Morocco on our upcoming Majestic Morocco tour this fall. Help us put talented women guides, like Reham Ali, to work and they in turn will make a strong difference in their communities.