Wherever your travel adventures take you – whether Dubai, Mumbai, Rwanda, London, Brazil, the US – travel is a power tool to make an impact. What you do, how you spend your money, how you educate yourself about a new place and people, who you hire, where you stay, where you eat, where you shop – all has the possibility to make a very real and direct impact on others lives and our own lives.
Often travel is billed as a relaxing experience, a self enriching experience, a chance to check out items on our bucket list. But travel is so much more – a chance to make a positive impact on the people we meet, and in turn they teach us about ourselves. I like to think of this as a facet of responsible travel. One very important area where we as travelers can make a big difference is with women – we can help empower them through employment. This isn’t about us “taking care” of these hard working ladies we meet. Rather, consciously choosing how we spend our money and directly seeking out opportunities where we can hire local women guides, stay at women owned and operated hotels, shop at co-ops which employ local women craftsworkers, and even hire local women taxi drivers and uber drivers where they exist.
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. Intentionally giving that tourism work to women tourism professionals helps a step in the right direction for worldwide gender equality – one woman at a time.
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.”
Women have the power to be the change they want to see in the world. The way we help women change their lives and other women’s lives is by employing them at fare wages. Through how we spend our money and our time, we as travelers have tremendous potential to affect the places we visit and the people who call them home. We can understand cultures, steward the environment, and protect ancient sites through our travel choices; and even play a role in increasing women’s economic power in the places we travel.
What choices are you making when you travel to make a positive impact on the place you are exploring?