Tourism offers significant opportunities for women to run their own businesses. According to 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 others 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 including, labour rights, flexible work and childcare, 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 women gain from their employment in tourism. Some programmes generate income by applying their skills in event management, a natural outgrowth of hosting sporting tournaments.