Tourism offers significant opportunities for women to run their own businesses. According to the United Nations Global Report on Women in Tourism 2010:
“Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries and provides a wide range of income-generation opportunities for women, particularly in developing regions. In many countries it acts as an engine for development through foreign exchange earnings and the creation of direct and indirect employment. In developing countries, tourism generates 45% of the total exports in services. Tourism presents both opportunities and challenges for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Women are almost twice as likely to be employers in tourism as compared to other sectors. Nevertheless, women are often concentrated in low-skill, low-paid and precarious jobs, typically earn 10% to 15% less than their male counterparts, and tend to perform jobs such as cooking, cleaning and hospitality.”
To improve women’s economic empowerment in the tourism sector, this UN report highlights many aspects that still need to be addressed. These include labour rights, flexible work and childcare, and access to credit, land and property, appropriate training, and resources.
Women Win programme partners are tackling these issues while successfully competing in the eco-tourism, hotel and restaurant sectors. They are also creating a new wave of women-owned businesses based upon the market insights they have gained from employment in tourism. Some programmes generate income by applying their skills in event management, a natural outgrowth of hosting sporting tournaments.
Empowering Women of Nepal
Empowering Women of Nepal offers education and skilled training in guided adventure trekking, to encourage the development of self-supporting, independent and decisive women.
Along with 3 Sisters and other trekking guide companies, EWN offers education and skilled training for disadvantaged rural women on guiding adventure treks – a male-dominated field in Nepal – and provides them with job placements.
Female trainees complete an intensive four-week programme with a curriculum that includes conversational English, first aid, the history, geography and culture of Nepal, leadership skills, women's rights, trekking instruction, health and hygiene, and waste management. This is followed by a five-month paid apprenticeship programme. Further, EWN focuses on mobile training and rural community development in West Nepal through eco-tourism. A mobile team from EWN travels to remote areas of Nepal to provide intensive training on health, leadership, hygiene and sanitation, food hygiene, and women's health issues. EWN has also established a home for girls from all over Nepal who have been rescued from child labour and exploitation. The girls are provided with food, shelter, education, and support.