Tourism is leading other global sectors in advancing gender equality, offering women more opportunities for leadership roles

13 November, 2019

A new study has revealed that tourism offers women more opportunities for leadership roles, has a larger female workforce and a smaller gender wage-gap.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with UN Women, The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), World Bank Group and Amadeus, recently launched the second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism . The publication highlights the progress the global tourism sector has made in advancing gender equality, with key case studies and statistics gathered from around the world.

The report highlights that the majority of the tourism workforce worldwide is female with 54% of people employed in tourism are women compared to 39% in the broader economy. It also offers women more opportunities for leadership roles: 23% of tourism Ministers are female compared to 20.7% of Ministers overall. The wage-gap is also smaller in the tourism sector with women in tourism earning 14.7% less than men compared to 16.8% in the broader economy.

The report also highlights how more and more women are challenging gender stereotypes in the sector. In Morocco, for example, women have been issued tour guide licenses for the first time. An airline in the UK has doubled the number of female pilots they employ and Uganda’s Hotel Owner’s Association is now lead by its first female CEO.

The report acknowledges that technology has been a catalyst for empowerment, providing women with access to more training opportunities and stimulating female entrepreneurship through easier access to the tourism market. In the public sphere, policy-makers are also waking up to the importance of gender equality in tourism and putting measures in place to ensure women fairly share the benefits that tourism can bring.

Speaking on the report’s findings UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “Tourism is leading the charge for female empowerment all over the world. Across the private and public sectors women are harnessing the potential of tourism to become financially independent, challenge stereotypes and start their own businesses.

“UNWTO is firmly committed to working towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 – the empowerment of women and girls – and ensuring that tourism continues to be at the forefront of gender-equality efforts,” he added.

This subject remains a key discussion point in the airline sector where there are relatively few female airline CEOs. International Air Transport Association (IATA) in the past couple of months launched its 25by2025 Campaign—an airline industry initiative to advance gender diversity in the airline industry by 2025.

While just a voluntary campaign for member airlines, it represents a commitment to increase the number of women in senior positions (to be defined by the member airlines) by either 25% against currently reported metrics or to minimum representation of 25% by 2025. It is also working to increase the number of women in under-represented jobs (e.g. pilots and operations) by either 25% against currently reported metrics or to a minimum representation of 25% by 2025.

There is currently no comprehensive airline industry-wide gender diversity statistical report. But, with women representing around 5% of the global pilot population and 3% of CEOs, the gender imbalance in the industry is clear. IATA member airlines who have already signed up to the 25by2025 Campaign include China Eastern, Lufthansa Group and Qatar Airways.