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“Tourism” a Vehicle for Women’s Empowerment: Prospect and Challenges

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  • The Hope Program

Abstract

Tourism is considered as one of the world's largest economic activities today. The Draft Tourism Policy 1997 sees the emergence of tourism as an important instrument for sustainable human development including poverty alleviation, employment generation, environment regeneration and advancement of women and other disadvantaged groups in Karnataka. The contribution of women in the business world has increased in recent years, although women are underrepresented in management and leadership. In the tourism industry, the percentage of women who work in the industry is high, but their function is dominated by unskilled, low-paid jobs. The tourism sector definitely provides various entry points for women's employment and opportunities for creating self-employment in small and medium sized income generating activities. This paper aims to examine the importance of women in the tourism sector, analyze and evaluate the reasons for and constraints to women’s vertical mobility, and addresses the issue of how tourism affects their activities. More specifically it investigates issues concerning the access to natural resources by women. In addition, the paper discusses the new opportunities for income generation that the tourist market might provide for women, both in formal type employment arrangements and in informal sector activities, such as handicraft production. The present study looks at the following conditions and how they affect the lives of women in tourism: 1) Income generation and poverty alleviation through tourism development 2) Participation in tourism planning and management 3) Women rights’, stereotypical images of women 4) Sharing experiences and networking
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Tourism a Vehicle for Women’s Empowerment: Prospect and Challenges
NICHOLA RAMCHURJEE
Department of Studies in Environmental Science, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore, 570 006. Email
address: nichola_ramchurjee@yahoo.com
Abstract
Tourism is considered as one of the world's largest economic activities today. The Draft
Tourism Policy 1997 sees the emergence of tourism as an important instrument for sustainable
human development including poverty alleviation, employment generation, environment
regeneration and advancement of women and other disadvantaged groups in Karnataka. The
contribution of women in the business world has increased in recent years, although women are
underrepresented in management and leadership. In the tourism industry, the percentage of
women who work in the industry is high, but their function is dominated by unskilled, low-paid
jobs. The tourism sector definitely provides various entry points for women's employment and
opportunities for creating self-employment in small and medium sized income generating
activities.
This paper aims to examine the importance of women in the tourism sector, analyze and
evaluate the reasons for and constraints to women’s vertical mobility, and addresses the issue of
how tourism affects their activities. More specifically it investigates issues concerning the access
to natural resources by women. In addition, the paper discusses the new opportunities for income
generation that the tourist market might provide for women, both in formal type employment
arrangements and in informal sector activities, such as handicraft production.
The present study looks at the following conditions and how they affect the lives of
women in tourism:
1) Income generation and poverty alleviation through tourism development
2) Participation in tourism planning and management
3) Women rights’, stereotypical images of women
4) Sharing experiences and networking
2
Keywords: women, poverty alleviation, employment generation, environment regeneration,
advancement of women, tourism.
Introduction
Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries. In many countries it acts as
an engine for development through foreign exchange earnings and the creation of direct and
indirect employment (WTO). Tourism contributes 5% of the world’s GDP and 7% of jobs
worldwide. It accounts for 6% of the world’s exports and 30% of the world’s exports in
services. In developing countries, tourism generates 45% of the total exports in services
(UNWTO). Research shows the different ways in which tourism can contribute to economic
growth, poverty reduction and community development. The Draft Tourism Policy 1997 sees
the emergence of tourism as an important instrument for sustainable human development
including poverty alleviation, employment generation, environment regeneration and
advancement of women and other disadvantaged groups in Karnataka.
Tourism has demonstrated its potential for creating jobs and encouraging income-generating
activities to benefit local communities in destination areas. However, less attention has been
paid to the unequal ways in which the benefits of tourism are distributed between men and
women, particularly in the developing world. The tourism sector definitely provides various
entry points for women's employment and opportunities for creating self-employment in small
and medium sized income generating activities, thus creating paths towards the elimination of
poverty of women and local communities in developing countries.
Tourism presents both opportunities and challenges for gender equality and women’s
empowerment. The contribution of women in the business world has increased in recent years,
although women are underrepresented in management and leadership. In the tourism industry,
the percentage of women who work in the industry is high, but their function is dominated by
unskilled, low-paid jobs. The tourism sector definitely provides various entry points for
3
women's employment and opportunities for creating self-employment in small and medium sized
income generating activities.
Gender stereotyping and discrimination mean that women mainly tend to perform jobs such as
cooking, cleaning and hospitality. Much tourism employment is seasonal and fluctuates
according to the volatile nature of the industry. If a strong gender perspective is integrated into
planning and implementation processes, tourism can be harnessed as a vehicle for promoting
gender equality and women’s empowerment at the household, community, national and global
level. At the same time, greater gender equality will contribute to the overall quality of the
tourist experience, with a considerable impact on profitability and quality across all aspects of
the industry.
However, there are a number of conditions under which this potential can be used more
effectively. This requires collaboration of all stakeholders - governments and intergovernmental
bodies, local government, industry, trade unions, local communities and their different member
groups, NGOs, community based tourism initiatives, etc. The increase of the use of tourism's
potential whilst safeguarding the natural environment and cultural heritage and increasing social
and economic justice should be the goal of further tourism development.
This paper aims to examine the importance of women in the tourism sector, though
(1) Income generation and poverty elimination through tourism development
(2) Participation in tourism planning and management
(3) Women's rights, stereotypical images of women,
(4) Sharing experiences and networking
Income Generation and Poverty Elimination through Tourism Development
Women's Employment in Tourism: In the last few decades, the tourism industry has
undergone a period of explosive growth, and as a labour intensive industry, there has
consequently been a rapid rate of job creation and development.
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Globally, the tourism industry seems to be a particularly important sector for women (46 % of
the workforce are women) as their percentages of employment in most countries are higher than
in the workforce in general (34 - 40 % are women, ILO data). The numbers of women and their
percentage of the workforce in tourism vary greatly between countries - from 2 % up to over 80
%. Although there were few obvious regional trends it would appear that in those countries
where tourism is a more mature industry women generally account for around 50 % of the
workforce.
Of the data available for the years between 2008 and 2007, it appears that there has been a broad
increase in the participation of women for tourism industry at a global level. The majority of this
increase in female participation may be driven by the growth in the industry for specific
countries, such as Puerto Rico, Chile and Turkey. For the industrially developed countries, there
has been little change in the actual participation of women in the tourism industry.
Women's Occupations and Positions in the Tourism Industry: As in many other business
sectors, there is a significant horizontal and vertical gender segregation of the labour market in
tourism. Horizontally, women and men are placed in different occupations - women are being
employed as waitresses, cleaners, travel agencies sales persons, flight attendants, etc., whereas
men are being employed as gardeners, construction workers, drivers, pilots, etc. Vertically, the
typical "gender pyramid" is prevalent in the tourism sector - lower levels and occupations with
few career development opportunities are being dominated by women and key managerial
positions being dominated by men.
Vertical segregation of the labour market in the service and the administrative / managerial
sectors reflects the situation in the labour markets in general. Women around the world have
achieved higher levels of education than ever before and today represent more than 40 % of the
global workforce. Yet their share of management positions remains unacceptably low, with just a
tiny proportion succeeding in breaking through the "glass ceiling". There are numerous inter-
linked factors, which help to maintain gender segregation of the labour market. Among them are
gender stereotyping, traditional gender roles and gender identity - women are seen as being
suitable for certain occupations and they seem themselves as suitable. In addition, traditional
gender roles assign to women the main responsibilities for raising children, caring for the elderly,
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and doing household work. Thus, women are often forced to choose casual labour, part-time and
seasonal employment.
Many of the community based tourism initiatives reported depend upon the conservation of
natural resources, protected areas and national parks around which they arose. Therefore, pro-
active protection of natural resources in tourism destinations is needed to sustain the basis of the
livelihoods of community members being involved in tourism activities. The same applies to the
conservation of local cultures and cultural heritage sites, which forms the basis of many tourism
activities.
Another common aspect is the seasonal nature of tourism industry. Some argue that this creates a
particularly good condition for women enabling them to accommodate their various
responsibilities. However, this should not be seen as a general rule. In many cases, women and
mothers cannot rely on a regular income forming the basis of the household income but have
themselves to generate income all year.
Participation in Tourism Planning and Management
In many areas the local communities or sections of local communities have taken the initiative to
maximise gains for themselves. In most cases this has been a spontaneous development.
However, there have been attempts to introduce systematic processes or strategies to enhance
participation by all sections of the host communities, with several of these having a gender focus.
Apart from developing good governance, income generation is the important motive for
participation by women in the tourism industry. In most destination areas in Karnataka, the
gains for the local community seem to come from the informal sector or the formal sector owned
or organised by the communities.
Women's Rights, Stereotypical Images
Women's Rights: The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979) and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (1948) must form the basis of addressing human rights and women's rights issues in
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tourism. Women can suffer specific discrimination within the tourism sector. As observations in
this report shows, women are consistently denied positions of leadership and responsibility
within the industry, they are concentrated in low skilled and low paid occupations, they are being
objectified as part of the tourism "package" and they can have their traditional roles perpetuated
within an industry that feeds on uncomplicated images. Tourism can violate women's rights, but
it can also be used to challenge traditional roles and to empower women, in economic, social,
cultural and political terms. The study shows that women found a voice and independence
through getting involved in tourism activities - by becoming part of decision-making processes
and carving out new roles in their families, homes and within local power structures.
Sharing Experiences and Networking
Sharing Good Practices: Promoting good practices more effectively and sharing lessons learnt
from experiences is a definite need in order to support sustainable tourism development.
Networking: The need for networking, exchange and mutual support of women being active in
setting up income generating activities but often also with the challenges of altering their
traditional roles in their communities by generating independent income, becoming a "leader" or
a "business woman", there is an understandable need for mutual support and exchange of
strategies how to meet these challenges.
Literature Review
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 46 per cent of the workforce in the
tourism sector comprises women. Amongst countries where tourism is a more mature industry,
women account for up to 50 per cent of the workforce.
Like most industries, the field of tourism has gendered differences in: salary (Cukier, 1996; Levy
and Lerch, 1991; Lundgren, 1993), job opportunities (Seager, 2003), level of employment and
job security (Cukier, 1996; Levy and Lerch, 1991). On average, in the ecotourism industry,
women need superior qualifications for jobs than men (Cukier, 1996). Furthermore, women are
more often affected by underemployment and unemployment because they are given seasonal
and/or part-time jobs in tourism (Jolliffe and Farnsworth, 1996).
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There are also known to be challenges facing women in tourism. Women are often concentrated
in low status, low paid and precarious jobs in the tourism industry. Gender stereotyping and
discrimination mean that women mainly tend to perform jobs such as cooking, cleaning and
hospitality. Much tourism employment is seasonal and fluctuates according to the volatile nature
of the industry. In some destinations links have been found between tourism and the sex industry
which could make women more vulnerable to sexual exploitation (UNWTO).
Cukier (1996) researched the gendered effects of tourism development and employment in Bali,
Indonesia. The overall benefits of tourism included: increases in jobs, opening of new
businesses, and self-employment artisan opportunities. Female employee opportunities were
restricted by absolutely no access to male jobs (e.g., security guards, drivers, groundskeeping),
and the inability to work the graveyard shift because of personal safety and childcare duties.
Tour guides are well paid, prestigious positions, of which only 7% are women.
Cukier concludes that tourism creates jobs, but domestic obligations, religious beliefs, already
established cultural beliefs regarding gender roles, ability to travel longer distances for work, and
child rearing, make them less accessible to women. Because of this, women supplement income
by side jobs (e.g., baking, cleaning) to sustain household livelihood, and rely on social
networking for aide in domestic work and childcare or money from relatives living abroad (Levy
and Lerch, 1991).
More female participation in the future will be fuelled by the growth in the industry. For
instance, by 2007, according to India’s Tourism Ministry estimates, direct and indirect
employment from tourism in India will scale up to 66 million from the current 41 million.
The tourism multiplier for every Rs 1 million invested in this sector creates 47 jobs. This is four
times the number of jobs - 12 on an average - created for an equivalent investment in other
sectors. This holds out special possibilities for the relatively disadvantaged segments of society
like unemployed youth, women and the physically challenged.
Research Methodology
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Study Area
Karnataka is a state in the southern part of India. Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea to
the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil
Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the southwest. The state covers an area of 191,976 square
kilometres (74,122 sq mi), or 5.83% of the total geographical area of India. It is the eighth largest
Indian state by area, the ninth largest by population and comprises 30 districts. Kannada is the
official and most widely spoken language.
By virtue of its varied geography and long history, Karnataka hosts numerous spots of interest
for tourists. There is an array of ancient sculptured temples, modern cities, scenic hill ranges,
unexplored forests and endless beaches. Karnataka has been ranked as the fourth most popular
destination for tourism among the states of India(The Hindu Business Line), Karnataka has the
second highest number of nationally protected monuments in India, second only to Uttar Pradesh
(Archaeological Survey of India) in addition to 752 monuments protected by the State
Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. Another 25,000 monuments are yet to receive
protection (The Hindu). The districts of the Western ghats and the southern districts of the state
have popular eco-tourism locations including Kudremukh, Madikeri and Agumbe. Karnataka has
25 wildlife sanctuaries and five national parks. Popular among them are Bandipur National Park,
Bannerghatta National Park and Nagarhole National Park. The ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire
at Hampi and the monuments of Pattadakal are on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
The cave temples at Badami and the rock-cut temples at Aihole representing the Badami
Chalukyan style of architecture are also popular tourist destinations. The Hoysala temples at
Belur and Halebidu, which were built with Chloritic schist (soap stone) are proposed UNESCO
World Heritage sites (The Hindu). The Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Rauza are famous examples
of the Deccan Sultanate style of architecture. The monolith of Gomateshwara at
Shravanabelagola is the tallest sculpted monolith in the world, attracting tens of thousands of
pilgrims during the Mahamastakabhisheka festival.
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The data for this project were collected using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies:
interviews with local residents, community leaders, and owners/managers of tourism businesses;
participant observation; household surveys.
Results and Discussion
We found that this area of tourism is particularly suitable to stress the integrated approach to
environmental, social and economic aspects of the concept of sustainable development. The
tourism industry represents a huge economic factor and its environmental and social impacts are
obvious and have been well documented. In addition, integrating gender perspectives into the
discussion of tourism is particularly important as the tourism industry is one major employer of
women, offers various opportunities for independent income generating activities, and at the
same time affects women’s lives in destination communities.
However, tourism presents a wide range of income generation opportunities for women in both
formal and informal employment. Tourism jobs are often flexible and can be carried out at
various different locations such as the workplace, community, and household. Additionally,
tourism creates a wide range of opportunities for women through the complex value chains it
creates in the destination economy.
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In terms of employment, we establish that women are well represented but tend to be working at
a service or clerical rather than professional or decision-making level. In entrepreneurship, it was
found that women are almost twice as likely to be employers in the tourism industry as in other
sectors, and often employ more women than men. The results for education are less promising
there are proportionally fewer women graduates in services than in other fields. Tourism offers
the potential for women’s leadership. However, women still only represent one fifth of all
tourism ministers and tourism board chairs. While tourism often contributes to community
development and provides opportunities for women’s self-employment, the study finds that
women are contributing a large amount of unpaid work in tourism family businesses, especially
when compared to other sectors.
The key overall findings of the study are:
1. Women make up a large proportion of the formal tourism workforce.
2. Women are well represented in service and clerical level jobs but poorly represented at
professional levels.
3. Women in tourism are typically earning 15% to 20% less than their male counterparts
4. The tourism sector has almost twice as many women employers as other sectors
5. Women make up a much higher proportion of workers in tourism than in other
sectors
7. A large amount of unpaid work is being carried out by women in family tourism businesses
We found that tourism has the potential to be a vehicle for the empowerment of women in
Karnataka. It provides better opportunities for women’s participation in the workforce, women’s
entrepreneurship, and women’s leadership than other sectors of the economy. Women in tourism
are still underpaid, under-utilized, under-educated, and underrepresented; but tourism offers
pathways to success.
Globally, tourism offers women opportunities for global leadership. Women hold more
ministerial positions in tourism than in any other field. Nevertheless, only one in five tourism
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board (NTAs) CEOs are women, and only one in four tourism industry associations have a
woman chair.
Conclusion
We conclude that acknowledging the problem of gender segregation of labour markets is a
general one should not mean that it isn't addressed when discussing tourism. Bringing the
necessary changes about requires efforts in all sectors. However, the tourism industry seems to
be a particularly good "candidate" for engaging in efforts towards the advancement of women.
Due to its size, its rapid growth and its extremely diverse and dynamic nature, the tourism
industry has an enormous flexibility. This can enable the industry to develop key initiatives for
the advancement of women so that other industries can benefit from initiatives and strategies in
the tourism sector as models for their own development. The high percentage of women in the
tourism workforce in Karnataka provides a necessary fundament for the further advancement of
women.
References
1. Archaeological Survey of India, "Alphabetical list of Monuments". Protected
Monuments. 2007, http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_alphalist_karnataka.asp.
2. Cukier, J., Tourism Employment in Bali: Trends and Implications. In Tourism and
Indigenous Peoples, edited by R. Butler and Hinch, Thompson: London, UK, 1996.
3. Jolliffe, Lee and Regena Farnsworth, Seasonality of Tourism Employment: Human
Resource Challenges, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality
Management, 15 (6), 315-16, 2003.
4. Keay, India: A History, Grove publications, New York, p. 324, 2000.
5. Levy , Diane E. and Patricia B. Lerch, Tourism as a Factor in Development:
Implications for Gender and Work in Barbados. Gender & Society 5(2): 67-85, 1991.
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6. Lundgren, Nancy, Women, Work and “Development” in Belize. Dialectical
Anthropology 18: 363-78, 1993.
7. Seager, Joni, The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World. Penguin Books Ltd:
Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 2003.
8. The Hindu Business Line, "Karnataka to turn on tourism charms". Online Edition of The
Hindu Business Line, 2007,
http://www.blonnet.com/2002/02/15/stories/2002021500501200.htm.
9. The Hindu, "Plan to conserve heritage monuments, museums". Online Edition of The
Hindu, 2007, http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/06/stories/2007010606360500.htm.
10. Kumar, Kishna. R. "Mysore Palace beats Taj Mahal in popularity". Online Edition of The
Hindu, 2007, http://www.hindu.com/2007/08/17/stories/2007081755371000.htm. ^
"Belur for World Heritage Status". Online Edition of The Hindu dated 2004-07-25. The
Hindu.
11. The Hindu, 2007, http://www.hindu.com/2004/07/25/stories/2004072501490300.htm.
12. UNWTO, The Global Report on Women in Tourism 2010
13. WTO, World Trade Organisation, 2009
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1 This world division of labor has its origins in the expansion of Europe-in its fiercely competitive empire-building, with its concomitant creation of the slave trade, the colonizing of a large portion of the world, the usurping of governments, the expropriating of populations from their land, the extracting of resources and the creating of a new language, a new ideology and a new configuration of world relationships. It is within the context of this broad process that the position of women in Belize can most effectively be examined. This study draws on research I conducted in Belize between 1984 and 1989, in order to gather specific information on working women and to provide a theoretical framework within which to evaluate their status in the Caribbean in general. The ethnographic method was used to collect data on the ways in which women in Belize have accommodated themselves to the uneven but rapid penetration of capital into the country. I argue with Lynn Bolles, 2 that women's relationship to work and the relations of production and reproduction are affected by the political economy of Belize which, in turn, is affected by the international flow of capital. It is critical for development planning to be realistic about the ramifications of the international accumulation of capital, its impact on the region and, especially, its impact on women. Traditional development models based on neoclassical economic theory do not allow for a viable
Tourism as a Factor in Development: Implications for Gender and Work in Barbados
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