We all know that a lot of the world’s travel industry is managed by men. Although women account for more than half of the tourism workforce most remain in low-skilled, low-paying jobs with limited or no advancement opportunities. On the other hand, men are the ones who control the economy and benefit financially from the tourism sector. This can be changed. We can make conscious choices while travelling to empower women and promote gender equality around the globe.
A delightful and delicious way to learn about a region’s culture is to have a female-led cooking class. It’s a wonderful way to get to know the culture of a country. Some countries like Jordan have done a fantastic job supporting women-owned culinary businesses . Despite this, women have been involved in cooking and the kitchen for a long time. It’s exciting to see more women-run travel businesses that allow them to be tour guides and taxi drivers. Below is a selection of female-run travel companies and experiences around the world. Men, be aware that although all these businesses are run by women, some are open to male travelers.
Nepal Women-led Trekking Company
Thanks to Mount Everest and the extraordinarily-skilled hiking guides that climb it, Nepal is a well-known trekking destination. It is rare that you will encounter a female guide in Nepal. This is because women are less educated than men and are expected work at home. 3 sisters Adventure Trekking has worked to change this for the past 25 years. Three sisters from Nepal started a restaurant and lodge in 1993. They met women who were interested in trekking around the world, and they shared their bad experiences with their male guides. In 1993, three sisters from Nepal started their own trekking company. It’s “by and FOR women” and trains and employs female guides and assistants to trek in the Himalayas of Nepal, India, Bhutan. These women are empowered by joining a guided trek led by the company.
India’s female rickshaw drivers
India is known for its extraordinary food and colorful festivals. It also has one of the most interesting and richest cultures on Earth. It is also known for sexual harassment and widespread abuse. A non-profit organization is helping women run rickshaw tours in Jaipur, which is often called the “Pink City” because of its large number of pink buildings. Pink City Rickshaw trains women from the surrounding slums to drive erickshaws. This will allow them to lead shopping, heritage, craft and craft tours in the Old City. The concept not only empowers women economically, but also provides an ecofriendly solution for the increasing demand for experiential tourism in Jaipur. India has a mere 4% rickshaw license holder. However, this model allows women to buy their e-rickshaws as well as own shares in the company. This will encourage more women to enter the profession.
Riverboat trips for mother-daughter in Bangkok
Riverboat tours are a popular activity in Bangkok. While most Thai river cruises run by men, there is one company that is female-led. Although you may see men operating the boats of the Supatra & Chao Phraya Express Boat Group company, this fourth-generation business was founded by a woman in 1920s Thailand, a time when few women owned businesses. The boat dynasty passed from mother to daughter. Now, a mother-daughter team oversees 10 companies and 600 employees. The 57 express boats they own run 13 miles along the Chao Phraya River and transport more than 1,000,000 passengers per month (both tourist and local).
Ugandan tribal dancing and sewing
Local women in Uganda learn new skills they can also pass on to travelers. Photo credit: Ride 4 A Woman.
The female-run group Ride 4 A Woman is located just outside the Bwindi Impenetrable forest in Uganda. It empowers and provides microfinance to women who are struggling at home with HIV, domestic violence and extreme poverty. Hundreds of women in 11 villages around Ride 4 a Woman use the center or work there. They learn new skills that will help them support their families and educate their children. The collective teaches women how to weave baskets, pedal sew, sing, drum, and dance. Visitors can learn tribal dancing, basket weaving and traditional cooking from the collective. They can also choose their African fabric and create anything they want, including a purse or a dress in a pedal sewing shop.